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TWO YEARS IN 

THE 

FORBIDDEN CITY 




The Princess Der Ling 

{Mrs. Thaddeus C. White) 



TWO YEARS IN 
THE 

FORBIDDEN CITY 



BY 



THE PRINCESS DER LING 



FIRST LADY IN WAITING 
TO THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 



niustrated from Photographs 



NEW YORK 

MOFFAT, YARD AND COMPANY 

1911 






lf>' 



Copyright, 1911, by 
MOFFAT, YARD AND COMPANY 

NEW YORK 



All nights Beserved 
Published October, 1911 



©C(.A303031 



V. D . 



TO 

MY BELOVED FATHER 

LORD YU KENG 



FOREWORD 

The author of the following narrative has pe- 
culiar qualifications for her task. She is a 
daughter of Lord Yii Keng, a member of the 
Manchu White Banner Corps, and one of the 
most advanced and progressive Chinese officials 
of his generation. Lord Yii Keng entered the 
army when very young, and served in the Tai- 
ping rebellion and the Formosan war with 
France, and as Vice Minister of War during the 
China-Japan war in 1895. Later he was Min- 
ister to Japan, which post he quitted in 1898 to 
become President of the Tsung-li-yamen (Chi- 
nese Foreign Office). In 1899 he was ap- 
pointed Minister to France, where he remained 
four years. At a period when the Chinese Gov- 
ernment was extremely conservative and reac- 
tionary. Lord Yii Keng labored indefatigably 
for reform. He was instrumental in reorganiz- 
ing China's postal service on modern lines, but 
failed in efforts to revise the revenue system and 

vii 



viii FOREWORD 

modernize the army and navy, from being ahead 
of his times. He died in 1905. 

The progressive spirit of Lord Yii Keng was 
shown in the education of his children. When 
it became known that his daughters were receiv- 
ing a foreign education — then an ahnost un- 
heard-of proceeding among high Manchu offi- 
cials — attempts were made to impeach him as 
pro-foreign and revolutionary, but he was not de- 
terred. His children got their early education in 
missionary schools, and the daughters later at- 
tended a convent in France, where the author 
of this work finished her schoohng and entered 
society. On returning to China, she became 
First Lady-in-Waiting to the Empress Dow- 
ager, and while serving at the Court in that ca- 
pacity she received the impressions which provide 
the subject-matter of this book. Her opportu- 
nity to observe and estimate the characteristics 
of the remarkable woman who ruled China for 
so long was unique, and her narrative throws a 
new light on one of the most extraordinary per- 
sonalities of modern times. 

While on leave from her duties to attend upon 
her father, who was fatally ill in Shanghai, Prin- 



FOREWORD ix 

cess Der Ling took a step which terminated con- 
nexion with the Chinese Court. This was her 
engagement to Mr. Thaddeus C. White, an 
American, to whom she was married on May 21, 
1907. Yielding to the urgent solicitation of 
friends, she consented to put some of her ex- 
periences into literary form, and the following 
chronicle, in which the most famous of Chinese 
women, the customs and atmosphere of her Court 
are portrayed by an intimate of the same race, 
is a result. 

Thomas F. Millard. 
Shanghai, July 24, 1911. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTBE 

I. Introductory .... 

II. At the Palace .... 

III. A Play at the Court . 

IV. A Luncheon with the Empress 

V. An Audience with the Empress 

VI. In Attendance on Her Majesty 

VII. Some Incidents of the Court 

VIII. The Court Ladies 

IX. The Emperor Kwang Hsu . 

X. The Young Empress . 

XI. Our Costumes . . 

XII. The Empress and Mrs. Conger 

XIII. The Empress's Portrait 

XIV. The Emperor's Birthday . 
XV. The Mid-Autumn Festival 

XVI. The Summer Palace . 

XVII. The Audience Hall . 

XVIII. The New Year Festivals . 

XIX. The Sea Palace . 

XX. Conclusion . 



PAGB 
1 

12 

24 

39 

48 

55 

73 

94 

110 

181 

155 

172 

203 

240 

269 

288 

312 

328 

345 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



The Princess Der Ling .... Frontispiece 

FACING 
iTAGE 

North view of the Summer Palace . . . .14 

Pai Lou (archway) — Summer Palace . . . ■■14 
The Empress Dowager in her one hundred butterfly 

robe 22 

In front of the Pan Yuin De'en Palace ... 40 

View taken from Pei Yeun Dien i. ... 52 
The Empress Dowager dressed in her bamboo-leaf 

embroidered robe 68 

The Empress Dowager, Lady Yii, and Lady Roong 

Ling 80 

The Empress Dowager in one of her boats on the 

Lotus Lake 90 

Her Imperial Majesty in her yellow dragon robe . 112 
Her Imperial Majesty walking to the theatre after 

the morning audience 148 

Bridge at the Summer Palace 172 

The Jade Girdle Bridge — Summer Palace . .172 

East side of the lake inside the Summer Palace . 186 

Stand erected for foreigners 186 

The writer assisting Her Majesty .... 220 
The Empress of China dressed as the Goddess of 

Mercy 250 

Emperor's coffin carried by " 600 " pole bearers . 300 

Umbrella carriers in the funeral 300 

Foreigners in front of stand waiting for the funeral . 340 

Flag carriers in the funeral 340 

The Princess Der Ling in evening costume . . 376 



TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN 
CITY 

My father and mother, Lord and Lady Yu 
Keng, and family, together with our suite consist- 
ing of the First Secretary, Second Secretary, 
Naval and Military Attaches, Chancellors, their 
families, servants, etc., — altogether fifty-five peo- 
ple, — arrived in Shanghai on January 2, 1903, on 
the S.S. " Annam " from Paris, where for four 
years my father had been Chinese Minister. 
Our arrival was anything but pleasant, as the 
rain came down in torrents, and we had the 
greatest difficulty getting our numerous retinue 
landed and safely housed, not to mention the 
tons of baggage that had to be looked after. 
We had found from previous experience that 
none of our Legation people or servants could 
be depended upon to do anything when travel- 
ling, in consequence of which the entire charge 
devolved upon my mother, who was without 
doubt the genius of the party in arranging 
matters and straightening out difficulties. 

When the launch from the steamer arrived 
at the jetty off the French Bund, we were 



2 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

met by the Shanghai Taotai (the highest offi- 
cial in the city), the Shanghai Magistrate and 
numerous other officials, all dressed in their 
official robes. The Taotai told my father that 
he had prepared the Tien Ho Gung (Temple 
of the Queen of Heaven) for us to reside in 
during our stay in Shanghai, but my father 
refused the offer, saying that he had tele- 
graphed from Hong Kong and made all ar- 
rangements to go to the Hotel des Colonies 
in the French Concession. We had had pre- 
vious experience staying in this temple while 
on our way to Japan, where my father went 
as Minister in 1895, and did not care to try it 
a second time. The building is very old and 
very much out of repair. It was a beautiful 
place in its prime, but had been allowed to go 
to rack and ruin. The custom is that the 
magistrate has to find a place and supplj^- the 
food, etc., for high officials when passing 
through, and it is not exactly the thing to 
refuse their kind offer, but my father was 
always very independent and politely declined 
all proffers of assistance. 

At last we did safely arrive in the Hotel 
des Colonies, where my father found awaiting 
him two telegrams from the Imperial Palace. 
These telegrams ordered my father to go to 
Peldng at once, but, as the river to Tientsin 



TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 3 

was frozen, it was out of the question for us to 
go by that route, and as my father was veiy 
old and quite ill at that time, in fact con- 
stantly under the doctor's care, the only acces- 
sible way, via Chinwangtao, was equally out 
of the question, as it was a long and most 
tedious journey and quite beyond his strength. 
In view of all these difficulties, he telegraphed 
that, after the ice had broken up in the Peiho 
River, we would come by the first steamer 
leaving Shanghai for Tientsin. 

We left Shanghai on the 22d of February 
and arrived at Tientsin on the 26th, and, as be- 
fore, were met by the Customs Taotai of the 
port and numerous other officials (the same as 
when we arrived at Shanghai). 

There is a very curious custom of reverence, 
which must be performed by all high officials 
on their return from abroad. Immediately 
upon landing on the shores of China, arrange- 
ments are made with the nearest Viceroy or 
Governor to receive their obeisance to Ching 
Sheng An (to worship the Emperor of Peace), 
a Taotai being considered of too low a rank 
for such an honor. As soon as we arrived. 
Yuan Shih Kai, who was then Viceroy of 
Chihli Province at Tientsin, sent an official 
to my father to prepare the time and place for 
this function, which is an extremely pretty 



4 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

one. When arrangements had been made, 
both my father and Yuan Shih Kai dressed 
in their full ceremonial robes, which is the 
dragon long robe, with a reddish black three- 
quarter length coat over it, chao chu (amber 
beads), hat with peacock feather and red coral 
button, and repaired at once to the Wan Shou 
Kung (10,000 years palace), which is especially 
built for functions of this kind, where they 
were met by a large number of officials of the 
lower grades. At the back centre of this 
Temple, or Palace, stands a very long narrow 
table on which are placed the tablets of the 
Emperor and Empress Dowager, on which is 
written, " Wan sway, wan sway, wan wan 
sway" (10,000 years times 10,000 years times 
10,000 10,000 years). The Viceroy, or in this 
case Yuan Shih Kai, and the other officials 
arrived first. Yuan stood at the left side of 
this table and the others arranged themselves 
in two diminishing lines starting from the 
front corners of the table. Soon afterward my 
father came and knelt directly in front of the 
centre of the table and said, "Ah ha Ching 
Sheng An " (Your servant gives you greet- 
ing). After this ceremony was over my father 
immediately arose and inquired after Their 
Majesties' health, and Yuan replied that they 
were quite well. This closed the function. 



TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 5 

We stayed in Tientsin for three days, arriv- 
ing in Peking on the twenty-ninth. My 
father's condition was much worse and he 
begged for four months' leave of absence, in 
which to recuperate, which was granted by 
Her Majesty, the Empress Dowager. As our 
beautiful mansion, which we had built and 
furnished just before leaving for Paris, was 
burned during the Boxer Rising of 1900, en- 
tailing a loss of over taels 100,000, we rented 
and moved into a Chinese house. Our old 
house was not entirely new. When we bought 
the place there was a very fine but old Chinese 
house, the palace of a Duke, standing on the 
ground, and by some clever re-arrangement 
and building on, it was transformed into a beauti- 
ful foreign style house with all the fine hard- 
wood carving of the old house worked into it. 
By using the words *' foreign style," it is meant 
that, in so far as the Chinese house could be 
made to look like a foreign house, without 
tearing it down entirely, it was changed, that is 
the doors and windows, passageways, furnish- 
ings, etc., were foreign, but the arrangement 
of the house itself and courtyard was Chinese. 
This, like all Chinese houses in Peking, was 
built in a very rambling fashion, and with the 
gardens, covered about ten acres of ground. 
We had just finished furnishing it and moved 



6 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

in only four days when we left for Paris ; and it 
has always been a great sorrow to my family 
that we should lose this magnificent place, after 
having spent so much time and money in build- 
ing and beautifying it. However, this is only 
one of the many trials that a high official in 
China is called upon to bear. 

The houses in Peking are built in a very 
rambling fashion, covering a large amount of 
ground, and our former house was no exception 
to the rule. It had sixteen small houses, one 
story high, containing about 175 rooms, ar- 
ranged in quadrangles facing the courtyard, 
which went to make up the whole; and so 
placed, that without having to actually go out 
of doors, you could go from one to the other 
by verandas built along the front and enclosed 
in glass. My reader will wonder what possible 
use we could make of all of these rooms ; but what 
with our large family, numerous secretaries, 
Chinese writers, messengers, servants, mafoos 
(coachmen), and chair coolies, it was not a 
difficult task to use them. 

The gardens surrounding the houses were ar- 
ranged in the Chinese way, with small lakes, 
stocked with gold fish, and in which the beauti- 
ful lotus flower grew; crossed by bridges; large 
weeping willows along the banks; and many 
different varieties of flowers in prettily arranged 



TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 7 

flower beds, running along winding paths, 
which wound in and out between the lakes. At 
the time we left for Paris, in the month of 
June, 1899, the gardens were a solid mass of 
flowers and foliage, and much admired by all 
who saw them. 

As we now had no place of our own in Pe- 
king we did not know where to go, so, while we 
were at Tientsin, my father telegraphed to one 
of his friends to find him a house. After some 
little trouble one was secured, and it turned 
out to be a very famous place indeed. It was 
the house where Li Hung Chang signed the 
treaties with the Foreign Powers after the 
Boxer Rising and also where he died. We 
were the first people to live there since the death 
of Li Hung Chang, as the Chinese people were 
very superstitious and were afraid that, if they 
went there to live, something dreadful would 
happen to them. We soon made ourselves very 
comfortable, and while we lived there, none of 
the dreadful things happened to us that all of 
our good friends told us would be visited upon 
us if we dared to take this place. However, 
in view of our having lost our place by fire, I 
am inclined to think that their fears were well 
founded. 

The loss sustained by having this house 
burned we never recovered, as my father, being 



8 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

an official of the Government, it would have 
been very bad form to have tried to recover 
this money, besides a possible loss of standing, 
as Government officials are supposed never to 
consider themselves or families in the service 
of their country, and any private losses in the 
service must be borne without complaint. 

On the first of March, 1903, Prince Ching 
and his son, Prince Tsai Chen, came to see us 
and told us that Her Majesty wished to see my 
mother, my sister, and myself at once; that we 
should be at the Summer Palace (Wan Shou 
Shan) at six o'clock the following morning. 
My mother told Prince Ching that we had 
been wearing foreign clothes all these years, 
while abroad, and had no suitable Manchu 
clothes to wear. He replied that he had told 
Her Majesty all about us and also mentioned 
that he had seen us in European attire and she 
had said that it would not be necessary for us 
to wear Manchu costume to go to the Palace, 
that she would be glad to have us wear foreign 
clothes, as it would give her an opportunity to 
study the foreign way of dressing. Both my 
sister and myself had a very difficult time de- 
ciding what we should wear for this occasion; 
she wished to wear her pale blue velvet gown, 
as she thought that color suited her the best. My 
mother had always made us dress exactly alike. 



TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 9 

ever since we were little girls. I said that I 
preferred to wear my red velvet gown, as I 
had the idea it might please Her Majesty. 
After a long discussion I had my way. We 
had lovely red hats trimmed with plumes and 
the same color shoes, and stockings to match. 
My mother wore a lovely gown of sea green 
chiffon cloth embroidered with pale mauve iris 
and trimmed with mauve velvet; she wore her 
large black velvet hat with long white plumes. 
As we lived in the central part of the city 
and the only means of travel was by sedan chair 
and the distance from our house to the Palace 
was about thirty-six Chinese li (a three-hour 
ride), we had to start at three o'clock in the 
morning, in order to be there at six. As this 
was our first visit to the Palace, Prince Ching's 
message threw us into a great state of excitement, 
and we were naturally anxious to look our best 
and to be there on time. It had been the dream 
of my life to go to the Palace and see what it 
was like, and up to this time I had never had 
an opportunity, as most of my life had been 
spent out of Peking, — ^in fact, out of China. 
Another reason why this chance had never come 
before was, that my father had never registered 
our names (my sister and myself) in the 
Government book for the registration of births 
of Manchu children, in consequence of which 



10 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

the Empress Dowager did not know until we 
came back from Paris that Lord Yii Keng had 
any daughters. My father told me the reason 
why he did not put our names in this book 
was, that he wished to give us the best education 
obtainable, and the only way he could do it was 
not to let the Empress Dowager know. Be- 
sides this, according to the Manchu custom, the 
daughters of all Manchu officials of the second 
rank and above, after reaching the age of four- 
teen years, should go to the Palace, in order 
that the Emperor may select them for secondary 
wives if he so desires, and my father had other 
plans and ambitions for us. It was in this way 
that the late Empress Dowager was selected by 
the Emperor Hsien Peng. 

We started at three o'clock that morning in 
total darkness riding in four coolie sedan chairs, 
one on each side of the chair. In going such a 
long distance it was necessary to have two relays 
of chair coolies. This meant twenty-four coolies 
for the three chairs, not counting an extra coolie 
for each chair who acted as n sort of head chair 
bearer. Besides this there were three military 
officers on horses, one for each chair and two 
servants riding at the back of each chair. In 
addition there were three big Chinese carts fol- 
lowing behind for the chair coolies to ride in and 



INTRODUCTORY 11 

rest. This made a cavalcade consisting of forty- 
five men, nine horses and three carts. 

I had a rather nervous feehng riding along in 
the chair surromided by inky blackness, with 
nothing to relieve the stillness of the night but 
the rough voices of the chair bearers calhng back 
and forth to each other to be careful of stones 
and holes in the road, which was very uneven, and 
the clump, clump of the horses. To my readers 
who have never had the experience of riding a 
long distance in a sedan chair I would say that 
it is a most uncomfortable conveyance, as you 
have to sit perfectly still and absolutely straight, 
otherwise the chair is liable to upset. This ride 
was a very long one and I felt quite stiff and 
tired by the time I reached the Palace gates. 



CHAPTER TWO 
AT THE PALACE 

When we reached the City gates, which were 
about half way between our house and the Sum- 
mer Palace, they were wide open for us to pass. 
This quite surprised us, as all gates are closed 
at seven o'clock in the evening and are not opened 
except on special occasions until daylight. We 
inquired of the guard why this was, and were 
told that orders had been given for the gates 
to be opened for us to pass. The officials who 
had charge were standing in a double line dressed 
in full official dress and saluted us as we passed. 

It was still quite dark when we had passed 
through the gate and I thought of the many 
experiences of my short life ; but this was by far 
the strangest of them all. I wondered what Her 
Majesty would be like and whether she would 
like me or not. We were told that probably we 
would be asked to stay at the Court, and I 
thought that if that came to pass, I would pos- 
sibly be able to influence Her Majesty in favor 
of reform and so be of valuable assistance to 
China. These thoughts made me feel happy and 

12 



AT THE PALACE 13 

I made up my mind then and there that I would 
do all I could and use any influence I might have 
in the future towards the advancement of China 
and for her welfare. While I was still dream- 
ing of these pleasant prospects, a faint red line 
appeared on the horizon heralding the coming of 
a most perfect day, and so it proved. As the 
light grew brighter and I could distinguish ob j ects, 
a very pretty view gradually opened to me, and 
as we came nearer to the Palace I could see a 
high red wall which zigzagged from hill to hill 
and enclosed the Palace grounds. The tops of 
the wall and buildings were covered with yellow 
and green tiles and made a most dazzling picture 
in the bright sunhght. Pagodas of different 
sizes and styles were passed, and when we arrived 
at the village of Hai Tien, about four li from 
the Palace gates, we were told by the officers 
we only had a short distance further to go. This 
was good news, as I began to think we would 
never get there. This village was quite a pretty 
country place of one-story houses built of brick, 
which were very neat and clean as are most of 
the houses in the northern part of China. The 
children trouped out to see the procession pass, 
and I heard one remark to another: "Those ladies 
are going to the Palace to become Empresses," 
which amused me very much. 

Soon after leaving Hai Tien we came to a pai 



14 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

lou (archway), a very beautiful piece of old 
Chinese architecture and carved work, and from 
here got our first view of the Palace gates, which 
were about 100 yards ahead. These gates are 
cut into the solid wall surrounding the Palace 
and consist of one very large gate in the center 
and two smaller ones on each side. The center 
gate is only opened when their Majesties pass 
in and out of the Palace. Our chairs were set 
down in front of the left gate, which was open. 
Outside of these gates, at a distance of about 500 
yards, were two buildings where the guard stayed 
at night. 

Just as we arrived I saw a number of officials 
talking excitedly, and some of them went into the 
gate shouting "Li la, doula" (have come, have 
arrived). When we got out of our chairs, we 
were met by two eunuchs of the fourth rank 
(chrystal button and feather). This feather 
which is worn by eunuchs of the fourth rank, 
comes from a bird called the magh (horse-fowl) 
which is found in Szechuen Province. They are 
grey and are dyed black, and are much wider than 
the peacock feather. These two eunuchs were 
accompanied by ten small eunuchs carrying yel- 
low silk screens, which they placed around our 
chairs when we alighted. It appeared that Her 
Majesty had given orders that these screens 
(huang wai mor) should be brought to us. This 




North View of the Summer Palace 



fWfH^mmm-'-' -\ 



vyiHm444i*Hmu' 



VV VV\ VVV\\\VV\i . » « 




Pai Lou (Archway) — Summer Palace 



AT THE PALACE 15 

is considered a great honor. They were ten feet 
long and twenty feet high and were held by two 
eunuchs. 

These two eunuchs of high rank were extremely 
polite and stood at each side of the gate and 
invited us to enter. Passing through this gate 
we came into a very large paved courtyard about 
three hundred feet square, in which there were a 
great many small flower beds and old pine trees 
from which hung all kinds of birds in cages. On 
the side opposite to the gates we had entered was 
a red brick wall with three gates exactly like the 
others ; on the right and left side were long rows 
of low buildings each containing twelve rooms, 
used as waiting rooms. The courtyard was full 
of people dressed in official robes of the different 
ranks, and, after the Chinese fashion, all seemed 
to be very busy doing nothing. When they saw 
us they stood still and stared. The two eunuchs 
who were showing us the way conducted us to 
one of these rooms. This room was about twenty 
feet square, just ordinarily furnished in black 
wood furniture with red cloth cushions and silk 
curtains hanging from the three windows. We 
were not in this room more than five minutes 
when a gorgeously dressed eunuch came and said : 
"Imperial Edict says to invite Yu tai tai (Lady 
Yii) and young ladies to wait in the East side 
Palace." On his saying this, the two eunuchs 



16 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

who were with us knelt down and replied "Jur" 
(Yes). Whenever Her Majesty gives an order 
it is considered an Imperial Edict or command 
and aU servants are required to kneel when any 
command is transmitted to them the same as they 
would if in Her Majesty's presence. Then they 
told us to follow them and we went through an- 
other left gate to another courtyard laid out 
exactly the same as the former, except that the 
Ren Shou Dien (audience hall) is situated on 
the north side and the other buildings were, a 
little larger. The eunuchs showed us into the 
east side building, which was beautifully fur- 
nished with reddish blackwood exquisitely carved, 
the chairs and tables covered with blue satin 
and the walls hung with the same material. 
In different parts of the room were fourteen 
clocks of all sizes and shapes. I know this, for 
I counted them. 

In a little while two servant girls came and 
waited on us and told us that Her Majesty was 
dressing and that we were to wait a little time. 
This little time proved to be a matter of more 
than two hours and a half, but as this is con- 
sidered nothing in China, we did not get impa- 
tient. From time to time eunuchs came and 
brought milk to drink and about twenty or more 
dishes of various kinds of food which Her 
Majesty sent. She also sent us each a gold ring 



AT THE PALACE 17 

with a large pearl in the center. Later the chief 
eunuch, Li Lien Ying, came dressed in his official 
clothes. He was of the second rank and wore 
a red button and peacock feather and was the 
only eunuch that was ever allowed to wear the 
peacock feather. He was a very ugly man, very 
old and his face was full of wrinkles ; but he had 
beautiful manners and said that Her Majesty 
would receive us in a little while, and brought 
us each a jade ring which she had sent us. We 
were very much surprised that she should give 
us such beautiful presents before she had even 
seen us, and felt most kindly disposed toward 
her for her generosity. 

Soon after Li Lien Ying had gone, two court 
ladies, daughters of Prince Ching, came in and 
asked the eunuchs who were attending us if we 
could speak Chinese, which we thought a great 
joke. I was the first one to speak, and told 
them of course we could speak our own language, 
although we knew several others. They were 
very much surprised and said: "Oh! how funny, 
they can talk the language as well as we do." 
We in turn were very much surprised to find 
such ignorant people in the Imperial Palace and 
concluded that their opportunities for acquiring 
knowledge were very limited. Then they told 
us Her Majesty was waiting to receive us, and 
we went immediately. 



18 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

After walking through three courtyards very- 
similar to those we had previously passed through, 
we came to a magnificent building just one mass 
of exquisite carving. Large lanterns made of 
buffalo horns hung all over the veranda cov- 
ered with red silk from which red silk tassels were 
hanging and from each of these tassels was sus- 
pended a beautiful piece of jade. There were 
two smaller buildings flanking this large one, also 
one mass of carvings and hung with lanterns. 

At the door of the large building we met a 
lady, dressed the same as Prince Ching's daugh- 
ters, with the exception that she had a phoenix 
in the center of her headdress which distin- 
guished her from the others. This lady came out 
to meet us, smiling, and shook hands with us in 
the most approved foreign fashion. We were 
told later that this was the Young Empress, wife 
of the Emperor Kwang Hsu. She said: "Her 
Majesty has sent me to meet you," and was very 
sweet and polite, and had beautiful manners ; but 
was not very pretty. Then we heard a loud voice 
from the hall saying, "Tell them to come in at 
once." We went into this hall immediately and 
saw an old lady dressed in a beautiful yellow 
satin gown embroidered all over with pink 
peonies, and wearing the same kind of headdress 
with flowers on each side made of pearls and jade, 
a pearl tassel on the left side and a beautiful 



AT THE PALACE 19 

phoenix in the center made of purest jade. Over 
her gown she wore a cape, the most magnificent 
and costly thing I ever saw. This cape was made 
of about three thousand five hundred pearls the 
size of a canary bird's egg, all exactly alike in 
color and perfectly round. It was made on the 
fish net pattern and had a fringe of jade pend- 
ants and was joined with two pure jade clasps. 
In addition to this Her Majesty wore two pairs 
of pearl bracelets, one pair of jade bracelets, 
several jade rings and on her third and little 
fingers of her right hand she wore gold finger 
nail protectors about three inches long and on 
the left hand two finger nail protectors made of 
jade and about the same length. Her shoes were 
trimmed with small tassels made of pearls and 
embroidered with tiny pieces of different colored 
jade. 

Her Majesty stood up when she saw us and 
shook hands with us. She had a most fasci- 
nating smile and was very much surprised that we 
knew the Court etiquette so well. After she had 
greeted us, she said to my mother: "Yu tai tai 
(Lady Yii), you are a wonder the way you have 
brought your daughters up. They speak Chinese 
just as well as I do, although I know they have 
been abroad for so many years, and how is it 
that they have such beautiful manners?" "Their 
father was always very strict with them," m^ 



20 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

mother replied; "he made them study their own 
language first and they had to study very hard." 
"I am pleased to hear their father has been so 
careful with them," Her Majesty said, "and 
given them such a fine education." She took my 
hands and looked into my face and smiled and 
kissed me on both cheeks and said to my mother : 
"I wish to have your daughters and hope they 
will stay with me." We were very much pleased 
at this and thanked her for her kindness. Her 
Majesty asked all sorts of questions about our 
Paris gowns and said we must wear them all 
the time, as she had very little chance to see them 
at the Court. She was particularly in love with 
our Louis XV high heel shoes. While we were 
talking to her we saw a gentleman standing at a 
little distance and after a while she said, "Let 
me introduce you to the Emperor Kwang Hsu, 
but you must call him Wan Sway Yeh (Master 
of 10,000 years) and call me Lao Tsu Tsung 
(the Great Ancestor)." His Majesty shyly 
shook hands with us. He was a man about five 
feet, seven inches in height, very thin, but with 
very strong features; high nose and forehead, 
large, brilliant black eyes, strong mouth, very 
white, even teeth; altogether good looking. I 
noticed he had a very sad look, although he was 
smiling all the time wei were there. At this 



AT THE PALACE 21 

juncture the head eunuch came, knelt down on 
the marble floor and announced that Her 
Majesty's chair was ready and she asked us to 
go with her to the Audience Hall, distant about 
two minutes' walk, where she was going to 
receive the heads of the different Boards. It 
was a beautiful day and her open chair was wait- 
ing. This chair is carried by eight eunuchs all 
dressed in official robes, a most unusual sight. 
The head eunuch walked on her left side and the 
second eunuch on her right side, each with a 
steadying hand on the chair pole. Four eunuchs 
of the fifth rank in front and twelve eunuchs of 
the sixth rank walked behind. Each eunuch 
carried something in his hand, such as Her 
Majesty's clothes, shoes, handkerchiefs, combs, 
brushes, powder boxes, looking glasses of dif- 
ferent sizes, perfumes, pins, black and red ink, 
yellow paper, cigarettes, water pipes, and the 
last one carried her yellow satin-covered stool. 
Besides this there were two amahs (old women 
servants) and four servant girls all carrying 
something. This procession was most interest- 
ing to see and made one think it a lady's dressing 
room on legs. The Emperor walked on Her 
Majesty's right and the Young Empress on the 
left, as did also the Court ladies. 

The Audience Hall was about two hundred 



2^ TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

feet long by about one hundred and fifty feet 
wide, and at the left side was a long table cov- 
ered with yellow satin. When Her Majesty 
came down from the chair she went into the Hall 
and mounted her throne just behind this table, 
and His Majesty mounted a smaller one at her 
left side, the Ministers all kneehng on the floor 
in front of her and on the opposite side of the 
table. 

At the back of the Hall was a large dais about 
twenty feet long by about eighteen feet wide, 
enclosed by a magnificently carved railing about 
two feet high running all the way round, open 
only in the front in two places just large enough 
for a person to pass through. These two open- 
ings were reached by a flight of six steps. At 
the back of this dais was a small screen and im- 
mediately in front of this, in the center, was Her 
Majesty's throne. Immediately behind was an 
immense carved wood screen, the most beautiful 
thing I ever saw, twenty feet long by ten feet 
high. In front of Her Majesty's throne was a 
long narrow table. At the left side was a smaller 
throne for the Emperor. 

The theme of the carving and furnishings of 
this dais was the phoenix and peony most exqui- 
sitely carved in ebony wood, in fact the theme 
of the entire room was the same. On each side 
of Her Majesty's throne were two upright ebony 




The Empress Dowager in her one hundred butterfly robe. 

beneath which can be seen one of her shoes trimmed 

with pearls and other precious stones 



AT THE PALACE S3 

poles on the top of which were peacock feathers 
made into the shape of a fan. The upholstery 
was entirely of yellow Chinese velvet. 

Just before Her Majesty took her seat on her 
throne she ordered us to go behind this screen 
with the Young Empress and the Court ladies. 
This we did, and could hear the conversation 
between Her Majesty and the Ministers very 
plainly, and as my readers will see later, I made 
good use of this. 



CHAPTER THREE 

A PLAY AT THE COURT 

This day to me was a medley of brilliant im- 
pressions. I was a great novelty among these 
exclusive Court ladies, brought up rigidly apart 
from foreign life and customs, and I was sub- 
jected to a rapid fire of questions. I soon found 
that these women were the same as others the 
world over in point of curiosity and love of gos- 
sip. The fourth daughter of Prince Ching ( Sze 
Gurgur), a young widow and a strikingly hand- 
some woman, spoke to me. "Were you brought 
up in Europe and educated?" she asked. "I am 
told that when people go to that country and 
drink the water there, they quickly forget their 
own country. Did you really study to acquire 
all those languages or was it drinking the water 
that gave them to you?" I mentioned that I met 
her brother. Prince Tsai Chen, in Paris on his 
way to London for the coronation of King Ed- 
ward, and that we should have liked to have gone 
also, as my father had a special invitation, but 
were prevented from doing so by his urgent duties 
in Paris in setthng the Yunnan question, to which 

24> 



A PLAY AT THE COURT 25 

the Princess replied: "Is there a king in Eng- 
land ? I had thought that our Empress Dowager 
was Queen of the world." Her sister, wife of 
the brother of the Young Empress, a most intelli- 
gent, quiet and dignified lady, stood by smihng 
and listening to the eager questions. After 
numerous questions had been asked the Young 
Empress finally said: "How ignorant you are. 
I know that each country has its ruler and that 
some countries are republics. The United 
States is a republic and very friendly toward 
us, but I am sorry that such a common class 
of people go there, as they will think we are all 
the same. What I should like to see is some 
of our good Manchu people go, as then they 
would see what we really are." She afterwards 
told me she had been reading a history of the 
different countries, which had been translated 
into Chinese, and she seemed to be very well 
informed. 

After the Audience was over, Her Majesty 
called us out from behind the screen and told 
us to go with her to see the theatre. She said, 
as it was such a beautiful day, she preferred to 
walk, so we started, walking a little behind her, 
as is the custom. Along the way she pointed 
out from time to time different places and things 
that were her particular favorites, and as she had 
to keep turning around all the time, she finally 



26 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

told us to come and walk alongside of her. This, 
as I afterwards found out, was a great conde- 
scension on her part and a thing that she very 
seldom ever did. She, like everybody else, had 
her pets and hobbies, such as flowers, trees, 
plants, dogs, horses, etc., and there was one dog 
in particular that was her favorite pet. This 
dog was with Her Majesty always and followed 
her wherever she went, and a more homely dog 
I never saw. It had absolutely nothing to rec- 
ommend it in any way. Her Majesty thought 
it beautiful, and called it Shui Ta (Sea Otter). 

A short distance from the Audience Hall we 
came to a large courtyard. On each side of this 
courtyard were two immense baskets fifteen feet 
in height, built of natural logs and literally cov- 
ered with purple wisteria. They were simply 
gorgeous and great favorites of Her Majesty. 
She was always very proud of them when in 
bloom and took great delight in showing them 
to the people. 

From this courtyard we entered a sort of 
passageway which ran along the sides of a big 
hill and led directly to the theatre, where we soon 
arrived. This theatre is quite unlike anything 
that you can imagine. It is built around the four 
sides of an open courtyard, each side being sep- 
arate and distinct. The building has five stories. 
It is entirely open on the front and has two 



A PLAY AT THE COURT 27 

stages, one above the other. The three top stories 
are used for holding the drops and for store 
rooms. The stage on the first floor is of the 
ordinary kind; but that on the second floor is 
built to represent a temple and used when play- 
ing religious plays, of which Her Majesty was 
very fond. 

On the two sides were long, low buildings 
with large verandas running their entire length, 
where the Princes and Ministers sat when invited 
by Her Majesty to witness the play. Directly 
opposite this stage was a spacious building, con- 
taining three large rooms, which was used exclu- 
sively by Her Majesty. The floor was raised 
about ten feet above the ground, which brought 
it on a level with the stage. Large glass win- 
dows ran along in front, so made that they could 
be removed in the summer and replaced with 
pale blue gauze screens. Two of these rooms 
were used as sitting rooms and the third, the one 
on the right, she used as a bedroom, and it had 
a long couch running across the front, on which 
she used to sit or lie according to her mood. This 
day she invited us to go to this room with her. 
Later I was told that she would very often come 
to this room, look at the play for a while and 
then take her siesta. She could certainly sleep 
soundty, for the din and noise did not disturb 
her in the least. If any of my readers have ever 



28 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

been to a Chinese theatre, they can well imagine 
how difficult it would be to woo the God of Sleep 
in such a pandemonium. 

As soon as we were in this bedroom the play- 
commenced. It was a religious play called "The 
Empress of Heaven's Party or Feast to all the 
Buddhist Priests to eat her famous peaches and 
drink her best wine." This party or feast is 
given on the third day of the third moon of each 
year. 

The first act opens with a Buddhist Priest, 
dressed in a yellow coat robe with a red scarf 
draped over his left shoulder, descending in a 
cloud from Heaven to invite all the priests to 
this party. I was very much surprised to see 
this actor apparently suspended in the air and 
actually floating on this cloud, which was made 
of cotton. The clever way in which they moved 
the scenery, etc., was most interesting, and before 
the play was finished I concluded that any 
theatre manager could well take lessons from 
these people; and it was all done without the 
shghtest bit of machinery. 

As this Buddhist Priest was descending, a large 
pagoda began to slowly rise from the center of 
the stage in which was a buddha singing and 
holding an incense burner in front of him. Then 
four other smaller pagodas slowly rose from the 
four corners of the stage, each containing a 



A PLAY AT THE COURT 29 

buddha the same as the first. When the first 
Buddhist Priest had descended, the five buddhas 
came out of the pagodas, which immediately dis- 
appeared, and walked about the stage, still sing- 
ing. Gradually from the wing came numbers 
of buddhas singing until the stage was full, and 
they all formed into a ring. Then I saw a large 
lotus flower, made of pink silk, and two large 
green leaves appearing from the bottom of the 
stage, and as it rose the petals and leaves grad- 
ually opened and I saw a beautiful lady buddha 
(Goddess of Mercy) dressed all in white silk, 
with a white hood on her head, standing in the 
center of this flower. As the leaves opened I 
saw a girl and a boy in the center of them. 
When the petals of the lotus flower were wide 
open this lady buddha began to gradually 
ascend herself, and as she ascended, the petals 
closed until she seemed to be standing on a lotus 
bud. The girl standing in the leaf on the God- 
dess' right side held a bottle made of jade and 
a willow branch. The legend of this is that if 
the Goddess dips the willow branch into the jade 
bottle and spreads it over a dead person it will 
bring the person to life. The boy and the girl 
are the two attendants of the buddha. 

Finally the three came down from the flower 
and leaves and joined the rest of the bud- 
dhas. Then the Empress of Heaven came, a 



30 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

good old lady with snow-white hair, dressed from 
head to foot in Imperial yellow, followed by many 
attendants, and ascended the throne, which was 
in the center of the stage, and said: "We will go 
to the banquet hall." This ended the first scene. 

The second scene opened with tables set for 
the feast to be given by the Empress of Heaven. 
These tables were loaded down with peaches and 
wine and four attendants guarding them. Sud- 
denly a bee came buzzing near and scattered a 
powder under the nostrils of the attendants, 
which made them sleepy. When they had fallen 
asleep, this bee transformed itself into a big 
monkey and this monkey ate all the peaches and 
drank all the wine. As soon as he had finished 
he disappeared. 

A blast of trumpets announced the coming of 
the Empress of Heaven and she soon arrived 
accompanied by all the Buddhist Priests and 
their attendants. When the Empress of Heaven 
saw all the peaches and wine had disappeared, 
she woke the attendants and asked them why 
they were asleep and where the peaches and wine 
had gone. They said that they did not know, 
that they were waiting for her to come and fell 
asleep. Then one of the guests suggested that 
she should find out what had become of the feast, 
and attendants were sent out to the guard to find 
out from the soldiers if anyone had gone out of 



A PLAY AT THE COURT SI 

the gate recently. Before the messenger had 
time to retm'n, the Guard of Heaven came and 
informed the Empress that a big monkey, who 
was very drunk and carrying a big stick, had just 
gone out of the gate. When she was told this, 
she ordered the soldiers of heaven and several 
buddhas to go and find him at his place. It 
seems that this monkey had originally been made 
from a piece of stone and lived in a large hole 
in a mountain on the earth. He was endowed 
with supernatural powers and could walk on the 
clouds. He was allowed to come to heaven and 
the Empress of Heaven gave him a position look- 
ing after the Imperial orchards. 

When they got to his place on the earth, they 
found that he had taken some of the peaches with 
him and he, with other monkeys, was having a 
feast. The soldiers challenged him to come out 
and fight. He immediately accepted this chal- 
lenge, but the soldiers could do nothing with him. 
He pulled the hair out of his coat and trans- 
formed each hair into a little monkey and each 
monkey had an iron rod in its hand. He him- 
self had a special iron rod, which had been given 
to him by the King of Sea Dragons. This rod 
he could make any size he wanted from a needle 
to a crowbar. 

Among the buddhas who had gone with the 
soldiers was one named Erh Lang Yeh, who was 



32 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

the most powerful of them all and had three eyes. 
This buddha had a dog which was very powerful 
and he told the dog to bite this monkey, which he 
did, and the monkey fell down and they caught 
him and brought him up to heaven. When they 
got there the Empress of Heaven ordered that 
he should be handed to Lao Chun, an old taoist 
god, and that he should burn him in his incense 
burner. The incense burner was very large, and 
when they took the monkey to him he placed him 
inside this burner and watched him very care- 
fully to see that he did not get out. After he 
had watched for a long time he thought the 
monkey must be dead and went out for a few 
minutes. The monkey, however, was not dead 
and as soon as Lao Chun went out, he escaped 
and stole some golden pills which Lao Chun kept 
in a gourd and went back to his hole in the moun- 
tains. These pills were very powerful and if one 
of them were eaten it would give eternal life, 
and the monkey knew this. The monkey ate one 
and it tasted good and he gave the little monkeys 
some. When Lao Chun came back and found 
both the monkey and the pills gone he went and 
informed the Empress of Heaven. This ended 
the second scene. 

The third scene opened with the buddhas and 
soldiers at the monkey's place in the mountains 
and they again asked him to come out and fight. 



A PLAY AT THE COURT 33 

The monkey said: "What! Coming again?" and 
laughed at them. They started to fight again, 
but he was so strong they could not get the best 
of him. Even the dog who had bit him before 
was powerless this time, and they finally gave 
it up and returned to heaven and told the 
Empress of Heaven that they could not capture 
him the second time, as he was too strong. Then 
the Empress of Heaven called a little god about 
fifteen years old by the name of Neur Cha, who 
had supernatural powers, and told him to go down 
to earth to the monkey's place and see if he could 
finish him. This god was made of lotus flowers 
and leaves, that is, his bones were made of flowers 
and his flesh made of leaves and he could trans- 
form himself into anything that he wished. 
When Neur Cha got to the monkey's place and 
the monkey saw him, he said: "What! A little 
boy like you come to fight me? Well, if you 
think you can beat me, come on," and the boy 
transformed himself into an immense man with 
three heads and six arms. When the monkey 
saw this, he transformed himself also into the 
same thing. When the little god saw that this 
would not do, he transformed himself into a very 
big man and started to take the monkey, but the 
monkey transformed himself into a very large 
sword and cut this man into two pieces. The 
little god again transformed himself into fire 



34f TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

to burn the monkey, but the monkey transformed 
himself into water and put the fire out. Again 
the little god transformed himself, this time into 
a very fierce lion, but the monkey transformed 
himself into a big net to catch the lion. So this 
little god, seeing that he could not get the best 
of the monkey, gave it up and went back to 
heaven, and told the Empress of Heaven that 
the monkey was too strong for him. The Em- 
press of Heaven was in despair, so she sent for 
Ju Li, an old ancestor of the buddhas, who was 
the all-powerful one of them all ; and Kuan Yin, 
Goddess of Mercy, and sent them down to the 
monkey's place to see if they could capture him. 
When they arrived at the hole in the mountain 
the monkey came out and looked at Ju Li, but 
did not say a word, as he knew who this god was. 
This god pointed a finger at him and he knelt 
down and submitted. Ju Li said: "Come with 
me," and took the monkey and put him under 
another mountain and told him he would have 
to stay there until he promised he would be good. 
Ju Li said: "You stay here until one day I hft 
this mountain up for you to come out to go with 
a Buddhist Priest to the West side of heaven and 
demand the prayer books that are kept there. 
You will have to suffer a great deal on the way 
and face many dangers, but if you come back 
with this Buddhist Priest and the prayer books^ 



A PLAY AT THE COURT 35 

by that time your savage temper will be gone 
and you will be put in a nice place in heaven and 
enjoy life forever afterwards." 

This finished the play, which was very inter- 
esting, and I enjoyed it from beginning to end. 
It was acted very cleverly and quite realistic, and 
I was very much surprised to know that the 
eunuchs could act so well. Her Majesty told us 
that the scenery was all painted by the eunuchs 
and that she had taught them about all they 
knew. Unlike most theatres in China, it had a 
curtain which was closed between the acts, also 
wing slides and drop scenes. Her Majesty had 
never seen a foreign theatre and I could not 
understand where she got all her ideas from. 
She was very fond of reading religious books 
and fairy tales, and wrote them into plays and 
staged them herself, and was extremely proud 
of her achievement. 

Her Majesty sat talking, we standing, for 
some little time and she asked me if I understood 
the play, and I told her that I did and she seemed 
quite pleased. Then she said in such a charming 
way: "Oh! I am so interested in talking with you 
that I have forgotten to order my lunch. Are 
you hungry? Could you get Chinese food when 
you were abroad, and were you homesick? I 
know I would be if I left my own country for 
so long a time; but the reason why you were 



36 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

abroad so long was not your fault. It was my; 
order that sent Yii Keng to Paris and I am not 
a bit sorry, for you see how much you can help 
me now, and I am proud of you and will show 
you to the foreigners that they may see our 
Manchu ladies can speak other languages than 
their own." While she was talking I noticed 
that the eunuchs were laying three large tables 
with nice white table cloths, and I could see a 
number of other eunuchs standing in the court- 
yard with boxes of food. These boxes or trays 
are made of wood painted yellow and are large 
enough to hold four small and two large bowls 
of food. After the tables were laid ready, the 
eunuchs outside formed themselves into a double 
line from the courtyard to a little gate running 
into another courtyard and passed these trays 
from one to the other up to the entrance of the 
room, where they were taken by four nicely 
dressed eunuchs and placed on the tables. 

It seems that it was a habit of Her Majesty 
to take her meals wherever she happened to be, 
so that there was no particular place that she used 
as a dining room. I should also mention that 
these bowls were of Imperial yellow with silver 
covers. Some were ornamented with green 
dragons and some with the Chinese character 
Shou (Long Life). 

There were about one hundred and fifty differ- 



A PLAY AT THE COURT 37 

ent kinds of food, for I counted them. They 
were placed in long rows, one row of large bowls 
and one row of small plates, and then another 
row of small bowls, and so on. As the setting 
of the tables was going on, two Court ladies came 
into the bedroom, each carrying a large yellow 
box. I was very much surprised to see Court 
ladies doing this kind of work and I said to 
myself, if I come here will I have to do this sort 
of thing? Although these boxes appeared to be 
quite heavy, they brought them in very grace- 
fully. Two small tables were placed in front 
of Her Maj esty, then they opened the boxes and 
placed a number of very cute plates containing 
all sorts of sweets, lotus flower seeds, dried and 
cooked with sugar, watermelon seeds, walnuts 
cooked in different ways, and fruits of the season 
cut and sliced. As these plates were being 
placed on the tables Her Majesty said that she 
liked these dainties better than meat and gave 
us some and told us to make ourselves at home. 
We thanked her for her kindness and enjoyed 
them very much. I noticed that she ate quite a 
quantity from the different plates and wondered 
how she would be able to eat her lunch. When 
she had finished, two of the Court ladies came 
and took the plates away and Her Majesty told 
us that she always gave what was left to the 
Court ladies after she had finished eating. 



38 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

After this a eunuch came in carrying a cup of 
tea. This tea cup was made of pure white jade 
and the saucer and cover was of soHd gold. Then 
another eunuch came in carrying a silver tray 
on which were two jade cups similar to the others, 
one containing honeysuckle flowers and the other 
rose petals. He also brought a pair of gold 
chopsticks. They both knelt on the floor in front 
of Her Majesty and held the trays up so that 
she could reach them. She took the golden cover 
off of the cup containing tea and took some of 
the honeysuckle flowers and placed them in the 
tea. While she was doing this and sipping the 
tea, she was telling how fond she was of flowers 
and what a delicate flavor they gave to the tea. 
Then she said: "I will let you taste some of my 
tea and see if you like it," and ordered one of 
the eunuchs to bring us some tea, the same as she 
was drinking. When it came, she put some of 
the honeysuckle flowers in the cup for us and 
watched us drink it. It was the most delicious 
tea I had ever tasted and the putting of flowers 
in it gave it an extremely delicate flavour. 



CHAPTEE FOUR 
A LUNCHEON WITH THE EMPRESS 

When we had finished drinking tea, she told us 
to go with her into the next room, where the 
tables had been prepared for lunch, and I won- 
dered if she had any room for lunch, after all 
that she had just eaten, but I soon found out. 
As soon as she was inside the room, she ordered 
the covers to be removed and they were all taken 
off at one time. Then she took her seat at the 
head of the table and told us to stand at the foot. 
She then said: "generally the Emperor takes 
lunch with me when we have the theatre, but he is 
shy to-day, as you are all new to him. I hope 
he will get over it and not be so bashful. You 
three had better eat with me to-day." Of course, 
we knew that this was an especial favor, and 
thanked her by kowtowing before we commenced 
to eat. This kowtowing, or bowing our heads to 
the ground, was very tiring at first and made us 
dizzy, until we got used to it. 

When we commenced to eat. Her Majesty 
ordered the eunuchs to place plates for us and 
give us silver chopsticks, spoons, etc., and said: 

39 



40 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

"I am sorry you have to eat standing, but I can- 
not break the law of our great ancestors. Even 
the Young Empress cannot sit in my presence. 
I am sure the foreigners must think we are bar- 
barians to treat our Court ladies in this way and 
I don't wish them to know anything about our 
customs. You will see how differently I act in 
their presence, so that they cannot see my true 
self." 

I was watching her while she was talking to 
my mother and marvelled to see how she could 
eat, after having eaten such a quantity of candy, 
walnuts, etc., while in her bedroom. 

Beef was a thing that was tabooed within the 
precincts of the Palace, as it was considered a 
great sin to kill and eat animals that were used 
as beasts of burden. The food consisted mostly 
of pork, mutton and game, fowls and vegetables. 
This day we had pork cooked in ten different 
ways, such as meat balls, sliced cold in two dif- 
ferent ways, red and white, the red being cooked 
with a special kind of sauce made of beans which 
gives it the red color and has a delicious taste. 
Chopped pork with chopped bamboo shoots, pork 
cut in cubes and cooked with cherries and pork 
cooked with onions and sliced thin. This last 
dish was Her Majesty's favorite and I must say 
it was good. Then there was a sort of pancake 
made of eggs, pork and mushrooms chopped fine 



A LUNCHEON WITH THE EMPRESS 41 

and fried, also pork cooked with cabbage and 
another dish cooked with turnips. The fowl and 
mutton was cooked in several different ways. In 
the center of the table was a very large bowl 
about two feet in diameter of the same yellow 
porcelain, in which there was a chicken, a duck 
and some shark fins in a clear soup. Shark fins 
are considered a great delicacy in China. Be- 
sides this there was roast chicken, boneless chicken 
and roast duck. Ducks and chickens are stuffed 
with little pine needles to give them a fine flavor 
and roasted in open air ovens. 

There was another dish that Her Majesty was 
very fond of and that was the skin of roast pork 
cut into very small slices and fried until it curls 
up like a rasher of bacon. 

As a rule the Manchu people seldom eat rice, 
but are very fond of bread and tliis day we had 
bread, made in a number of different ways, such 
as baked, steamed, fried, some with sugar and 
some with salt and pepper, cut in fancy shapes 
or made in fancy moulds such as dragons, but- 
terflies, flowers, etc., and one kind was made with 
mincemeat inside. Then we had a number of 
different kinds of pickles, of which Her Majesty 
was very fond. Then there was beans and green 
peas, and peanuts made into cakes and served 
with sugarcane syrup. 

I did not eat very much, as I was too busy 



42 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

watching Her Majesty and listening to what she 
said, although she told us to eat all we could. 
In addition to all I have mentioned, we had many 
different kinds of porridge, some made of sweet 
corn and some with tiny yellow rice (like bird 
seed), and Her Majesty said that we must all 
eat porridge after our meat. 

After we had finally finished eating, Her 
Majesty rose from the table and said: "Come 
into my bedroom and you will see the Young 
Empress and the Court ladies eat; they always 
eat after I am finished." We went with her and 
I stood near the door between the two rooms 
and saw the Young Empress and Court ladies 
come in and stand around the table eating very 
quietly. They were never allowed to sit down 
and eat their food. 

All this time the theatre had been going on 
playing some fairy tales, but they were not near 
as interesting as the first play that we had seen. 
Her Majesty sat on her long couch in the bed- 
room and the eunuch brought her some tea and 
she ordered some brought for us. My reader 
can imagine how delighted I was to be treated 
in this way. In China the people think their 
sovereign is the supreme being and that her word 
is law. One must never raise their eyes when 
talking to her. This is a sign of great respect. 
I thought these extreme favors must be most 



A LUNCHEON WITH THE EMPRESS 43 

unusual. I had been told that Her Majesty had 
a very fierce temper, but seeing her so kind and 
gracious to us and talking to us in such a motherly 
way, I thought my informant must be wrong 
and that she was the sweetest woman in the 
world. 

When Her Majesty had rested a while, she 
told us that it was time we were returning to the 
city, as it was getting late. She gave us eight 
big yellow boxes of fruit and cakes to take home 
with us. She said to my mother : "Tell Yii Keng 
(my father) to get better soon and tell him to 
take the medicine I am sending by you and to 
rest well. Also give him these eight boxes of 
fruit and cakes." I thought my father, who had 
been quite ill since we returned from Paris, would 
not be much benefited if he ate all those cakes. 
However, I knew he would appreciate her kind 
thoughtfulness even if it were detrimental to his 
health. 

As perhaps most of my readers know, it is the 
custom to kowtow when Her Majesty gives pres- 
ents and we kowtowed to her when she gave us 
the fruit and cakes and thanked her for her kind- 
ness. 

Just as we were leaving, Her Majesty said to 
my mother that she liked us very much and 
wanted us to come and be her Court ladies and 
stay at the Palace. We thought this was 



44 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

another great favor and again thanked her, and 
she asked us when we could come and told us to 
bring our clothes and things only, as she would 
fix everything for us and showed us the house 
we would live in when we came and told us to 
come back inside of two days. This house con- 
tained three very large rooms and was situated 
on the right side of her own or private Palace. 
This Palace Ler Shou Tong (Ever Happy 
Palace) is situated on the shores of the lake and 
was Her Majesty's favorite place and where she 
spent most of her time, reading and resting and 
when the spirit moved her she would go for a 
sail on the lake. In this Palace she had quite a 
number of bedrooms and made use of them all. 
When she had finished showing us this house 
we took leave of Her Majesty, the Young 
Empress and the Court ladies, and after a long 
and tiresome ride, reached home exhausted but 
happy, after the most eventful day of our lives. 
When we got into the house, we were surprised 
to find several eunuchs waiting our return. 
They had brought us each four rolls of Imperial 
brocade from Her Majesty. Once more we had 
to bend to custom in thanking her for these gifts. 
This time, the gift having been sent to the house, 
we placed the silk on a table in the center of the 
room and kowtowed to thank Her Majesty and 
told the eunuchs to tell Her Majesty how grate- 



A LUNCHEON WITH THE EMPRESS 45 

ful we were to her for all her kindness and for 
the beautiful gifts. 

There is another thing that had to be done 
according to the custom, and that was to give the 
eunuchs a present or tip, and we had to give 
each of the eunuchs ten taels for their trouble. 
We afterwards found out that when eunuchs 
went anywhere to take presents for Her Majesty, 
they were required to report to her when they re- 
turned how the recipient had thanked her and 
what had been given them, which she allowed 
them to keep. She also asked them numerous 
questions about our house, whether we were 
pleased with her, etc. These people are ex- 
tremely fond of talking and after we had re- 
turned to the Palace again, they told us what 
Her Majesty had said about us the first day we 
were there. 

My mother felt very much worried to go to 
the Palace and leave my father all alone owing 
to his being in poor health, but we could not dis- 
obey Her Maj esty's order, so we returned to the 
Palace three days later. 

Our first day there was a busy one for us. 
When we first arrived we went and thanked Her 
Majesty for the present that she had sent us. 
She told us that she was very busy to-day, as 
she was going to receive a Russian lady, Madame 
Plan9on, wife of the Russian Minister to China, 



46 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

who was bringing a miniature portrait of the 
Czar and Czarina and family as a present from the 
Czar to her, the Empress Dowager. She asked 
me if I could speak Russian. I told her that I 
could not, but that most Russians spoke French, 
which seemed to satisfy her. She, however, said : 
"Why don't you tell me you speak Russian, I 
won't know or be able to find out," and at the 
same time was looking at one of the Court ladies. 
I concluded that someone must be fooling her, 
for she seemed to appreciate the fact that I had 
told her thp truth. This afterwards proved to 
be true and one of the Court ladies was dismissed 
for pretending she could talk foreign languages 
when she could not speak a word. 

Besides this audience there was the theatre and 
the engagement ceremony of Her Majesty's 
nephew, Ter Ju. The engagement ceremony, 
according to the Manchu custom, is performed 
by two of the Princesses of the Royal family 
going to the house of the prospective bride, who 
sits on her bed crosslegged, her eyes closed and 
awaits their coming. When they arrive at the 
house, they go to her bedroom and place a symbol 
called Ru Yee, made of pure jade about one and 
a half feet long, in her lap and suspend two small 
bags made of silk and beautifully embroidered, 
each containing a gold coin, from the buttons 
of her gown, and place two gold rings on her 



A LUNCHEON WITH THE EMPRESS 47 

fingers, on which is carved the characters Ta Hsi 
(Great Happiness). The meaning of the sym- 
bol or sceptre Ru Yee is "May all joy be yours." 
During this entire ceremony absolute silence 
is maintained and immediately they have finished, 
they return to the Palace and inform Her 
Majesty that the ceremony has been completed. 



CHAPTER FIVE 

AN AUDIENCE WITH THE EMPRESS 

No one informed us the day before that there 
was to be an audience to receive the Russian 
Minister's wife on that very day. We told Her 
Majesty that we must go and change our clothes 
in order to receive this lady. The dresses we 
wore that day were very simply made and short. 
The reason we wore this kind of costume was 
that there was no carpet and the bare brick floor 
had ruined our beautiful red velvet gowns, also 
the clumsy eunuchs had kept stepping on our 
trains all the time. We had made up our minds 
that short dresses for general wear every day 
would be more practical. Her Majesty said: 
"Why must you change your clothes? I see you 
look much better without that tail dragging 
behind you on the floor. I laughed at the idea 
of having a tail on one's dresses. I noticed that 
the first day when you came to the Court." 
Before we had time to explain to her, she said: 
"I see, dresses with tails behind must be more 
dignified than short ones, am I right?" We told 
her it was so. Then she said: "Go and put on 

48 



AN AUDIENCE WITH THE EMPRESS 49 

your most beautiful gowns at once." We imme- 
diately went and changed. My sister and my- 
self wore our pink crepe de chine gowns, trimmed 
with Brussels lace and transparent yokes of the 
same color cliiffon. My mother wore her gray 
crepe de chine embroidered with black roses and 
a little touch of pale blue satin on her collar and 
belt. We dressed in a great hurry, as Her 
Majesty had sent eunuchs to see if we were ready. 
When she saw us she exclaimed : "Here are three 
fairies with long tails." Then she asked us: "Is 
it very tiring to hold half of your dress in your 
hand when you are walking? The costume is 
pretty, but I do dislike the tail, there is no sense 
having a thing like that. I wonder what these 
foreigners wiU think of me having you dressed 
in their costume. I am sure they won't hke the 
idea. My reason is this : I want them to see you 
in foreign clothes in order to let them understand 
I know something about the way they dress. I 
must say that no foreign ladies have yet been 
presented to me dressed in such lovely gowns 
as you three have. I don't believe foreigners are 
as wealthy as the Chinese. I also notice they 
wear very little jewelry. I was told that I have 
more jewelry than any sovereign in the world 
and yet I am getting more all the time." 

We were very busy getting ready to receive 
Mdme. Plan9on, who arrived about eleven o'clock 



60 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

and was received in the waiting room of the first 
courtyard by my sister and from there conducted 
to the audience hall, Ren Shou Dien, where she 
was received by Her Majesty, who was sitting 
on her big throne on the raised dais. The Em- 
peror was present, sitting on Her Majesty's left 
hand and I stood on her right to interpret for 
her. Her Majesty was dressed in a yellow 
transparent satin brocade gown, embroidered with 
hollyhocks and the Chinese character "Shou" 
(Long Life) and trimmed with gold braid. She 
wore her big pearl, which is about the size and 
shape of an egg, suspended from the button of 
her dress, also numerous bracelets and rings and 
gold finger nail protectors. Her hair was 
dressed in the same style as usual. 

When Mdme. Plan9on entered the hall, my 
sister brought her to the steps of the dais and 
she courtesied to Her Majesty. I then went 
forward and brought her up onto the dais and 
Her Majesty shook hands with her and she pre- 
sented the photograph which she had brought 
to Her Majesty. Her Majesty made a very 
pretty speech of acceptance, expressing her 
appreciation of the gift of their Majesties, the 
Czar and Czarina. I interpreted this speech in 
French to Mdme. Plan^on, as she could not speak 
Enghsh. After this. Her Majesty told me to 
take Mdme. Plan^on to the Emperor, which I 



AN AUDIENCE WITH THE EMPRESS 51 

did. He stood up when she came near and shook 
hands with her and asked after their Majesties' 
health. This over, Her Majesty stepped down 
from her throne and took Mdme. Plan9on to her 
own Palace, the one with so many bedrooms, and 
when they arrived, Her Majesty asked her to 
sit down, and they talked together for about ten 
minutes, I interpreting for them, after which I 
took her to see the Young Empress. 

The Manchu law is very strict as regards the 
mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law, and the 
Young Empress had been sitting behind the 
screen at the back of the throne during the audi- 
ence, and it was there that I found her. From 
there we went to the banquet hall, where luncheon 
was served in Manchu style. 

Here I must explain the difference between 
the Chinese way of eating and the Manchu. The 
Chinese place the bowls of food, one at a time, 
in the center of the table and everyone eats out 
of these bowls, sticking their chopsticks in and 
helping themselves to what they want. The 
Manchus eat quite differently and are served with 
individual bowls and dishes, the same as in any 
other country. Her Majesty was very proud of 
this and said that it saved time, not to mention 
being cleaner. The food in the Palace was 
always veiy good and clean, especially when we 
had foreign guests, and of course we had a variety 



fis '^^^(> visaus in riii-: ix)Kninoi<:N cvv\ 

of tlislR's lor siK'li occasions, sucli as sharkiins, 
birds' nest pndding, not to mention a great qnan- 
tity of other things. 

Her ^Injesty liad given nie the order that 
morning to haAC the tables nicely decorated aiul 
they did look very nice when avc sal d<nvii. 
Besides the usual tablcAvare, n\ e had gold dragon 
menu holders, little peach-shaped silver saucers 
Idled with almonds and ilried Avatermelon seeds, 
and knives and forks in addition to cho[)sticks. 

Her JMajesly and the Emperor ne\ tr ate with 
guests, so JNIdme. Plan(^on was entertained by 
the Imperial Princess and tlie Court ladies. 
A\'hen luncheon Avas half over a eunuch came and 
told me that Her 3Iajesty wanted to see me at 
once. Tlie thought flashed through my head that 
something had gone wrong, or that some of the 
eunuchs had been making false reports, a bad 
habit of the Court; and I was mncli surprised to 
find her all smiles. She told me what a nice, 
polite lady JNIdme. Planc^'on was, that she had 
seen many ladies who had come to the Court, but 
none witli manners like tliis one, tliat she Avas 
sorry to saj'- that some of the ladies ^vho caine 
did not behave very well. She said: "Thejr seem 
to think we are only Chinese and do not know 
anything, and look down npon ns. I notice 
these things very quickly and am surprised to 
see people who claim to be well educated and 





View taken from Pei Yeun Dien, 
Spreading Cloud Pavilion^ Summer Palace 



AN AUDIENCE WITH THE EMPRESS 53 

civilized acting the way they do. I think we 
whom they call barbarians are much more civil- 
ized and have better manners." She was always 
very polite to the foreign ladies, no matter how 
badly they behaved, but after they had gone, 
she would tell us who was nice and who was not. 
After she had finished saying this, she gave me 
a beautiful piece of green jade to give to Madame 
Plan^on. When I gave it to her, she said she 
wished to thank Her Majesty, and I took her 
to the Palace again. 

When we had finished luncheon, she told me 
how pleased she was with her reception and the 
kindness that Her Majesty had shown her, and 
took her departure, we accompanying her to the 
courtyard of the Audience Hall, where her chair 
was waiting. 

Her Majesty had made a rule or custom that 
after all guests had departed, we must go to her 
and report everything. I suppose she was like 
all women, a bit of a gossip as well as the rest; 
it appeared so at any rate. She wanted to know 
what Mdme. Plan^on said, whether she liked the 
jade and whether she enjoyed her luncheon, etc. 

Her Majesty was very well pleased that I had 
interpreted so well for her and said: "I have 
never had anyone to interpret for me this way 
before. Although I don't understand the lan- 
guage, I can see that you speak it fluently. How 



54 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

did you learn? I wiU never let you go away 
from me any more. Sometimes the foreign 
ladies bring their own interpreters, but I can't 
understand their Chinese and have to guess at 
what they are saying, especially some of the mis- 
sionaries Mrs. Conger brings with her. I am 
very happy to have you and want you to stay 
with me as long as I live and I will arrange a 
marriage for you, but won't tell you just now." 

I felt very happy at what Her Majesty had 
said and thought I had made my debut under 
very favorable auspices, and was very glad that 
Her Majesty liked me; but this marriage ques- 
tion worried me, for nothing was farther from 
my mind than this. I afterwards told my 
mother about it and she told me not to worry, 
as I could always refuse when the time came. 

When we had told Her Majesty all that 
Mdme. Plan9on had said, she told us we could 
go to our rooms, that as we had risen early that 
morning and had worked very hard, we must be 
tired and needed rest, that she would not need 
us any more that day. We courtesied to her 
according to the custom when saying good night, 
and retired. 



CHAPTER SIX 
IN ATTENDANCE ON HER MAJESTY 

The building where we had our rooms, as I 
have said before, contained four large rooms and 
a hall, and we three, my mother, sister and my- 
self, each took a room and gave the fourth to 
our maids. Her Majesty had ordered a eunuch 
to accompany us and this eunuch told us that 
Her Majesty had ordered four young eunuchs to 
attend on us and that if they did not behave, we 
should tell him. He also said his name was Li, 
but as there were so many by this name, includ- 
ing the head eunuch, it was very hard to tell 
them apart. 

When we arrived, which took some time, he 
pointed to a building on our right and said that 
it was Her Majesty's own Palace and the one 
which we had just left. I could not understand 
why it had taken us so long to come, when the 
Palace was so near, and asked him about it. He 
told us that our little buildings were at the left 
side of the Emperor's Palace and that Her 
Majesty had had the entrance leading from our 
place to her Palace closed up for certain reasons 

55 



66 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

which he would not tell, but said: "You see this 
place ought to face East instead of towards the 
lake." The view on the lake was beautiful and 
I told him I liked it much better the way it was. 
He smiled and said: "You will have to learn a 
lot before you find out this wicked place." I 
was surprised at what the eunuch said, but did 
not like to ask him sltlj questions. He also told 
us that the Emperor's Palace was just behind 
our place and was a large building similar to 
Her Majesty's Palace. We looked and could 
see the trees of his courtyard above the roof. 
Then he pointed to another building behind the 
Emperor's, which was larger but lower than the 
Emperor's Palace, and also had a large court- 
yard, and said it was the Young Empress's Pal- 
ace. It had two buildings flanking it on each 
side and the eunuch told us that the one on the 
left was the Secondary Wife's bedroom. That 
there had been an entrance between the two Pal- 
aces, but that Lao Fo Yeh (The great old 
Buddha), as the eunuchs called Her Majesty, 
had blocked it up so that the Emperor and 
Empress could not communicate with each other, 
except through Her Majesty's own Palace. I 
suppose this was the way she kept watch over 
them and knew at all times what they were doing. 
This was all news to me and I did not know what 
to think of it. I was afraid that this eunuch Li 



IN ATTENDANCE ON HER MAJESTY 57 

would tell me more of these curious things, so 
I told him I was tired and would go to my room 
and rest, and he went away. 

When I finally got inside my room and had 
a chance to look around, I saw that it was very 
prettily furnished with ebonywood furniture, 
which was covered with red satin cushions and 
the windows were hung with red silk curtains. 
All the bedrooms were just alike. The kong 
(bed) was made of brick covered with the same 
kind of wood and ran along the wall under the 
front window. It had high teaster posts with 
slats running across on which red curtains were 
hung. These kongs are very curiously built. 
They are made of brick and have a hole in the 
front center in which fire is placed to heat the 
brick in winter time. During the day a sort of 
table is placed on top of the kong and removed 
again at night. 

Shortly after we had gone to our rooms, some 
eunuchs came and brought our dinner, which they 
placed on a table in the center of the hall. They 
told us the food had been sent by Her Majesty 
and that she had ordered them to tell us to make 
ourselves comfortable. We were so tired that 
we could not eat very much and were about to 
retire for the night when this eunuch Li came 
again and told us that we must be up at five 
o'clock, not later, so I told my eunuch to knock 



58 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

on my window at five. Immediately after this 
we went to bed, but did not sleep immediately, 
as we wanted to talk over the events of the day, 
which had been many and strange. After we 
did finally get to bed, it seemed as if we had just 
fallen asleep when I heard someone knocking on 
my window. I woke up with a start and asked 
what the matter was and a eunuch told me it 
was five o'clock and time to get up. 

I immediately got up and opened my window 
and looked out. The day was just dawning and 
the sky was a beautiful deep red which was 
reflected in the lake, which was perfectly calm. 
The scenery was lovely and in the distance I 
could see Her Majesty's peony mountain, which 
was literally covered with these beautiful flowers. 
I dressed at once and went to Her Majesty's 
Palace and there met the Young Empress sitting 
on the veranda. I courtesied to her as a good 
morning salute. The Emperor's Secondary wife 
was there also, but we had been ordered not to 
courtesy to her, as she was considered not to have 
any standing there. There was also a number of 
young Court ladies, many of whom I had never 
seen before. The Young Empress introduced 
me to them, saying that they were also Court 
ladies. They were daughters of high Manchu 
officials and some were very pretty and bright. 
The lYoung Empress told me that these ten 



IN ATTENDANCE ON HER MAJESTY 59 

(there were just ten there) were never allowed 
to go near Her Majesty, as they were just learn- 
ing the court etiquette. They were all dressed 
very nicely in pretty Manchu gowns, the same 
design as that worn by the Young Empress. 

After I had been introduced to these young 
ladies and talked with them a while, I went inside 
with the Young Empress and there met Sze 
Gurgur, fourth daughter of Prince Ching and a 
young widow twenty-four years of age; Yuen 
Da Nai Nai, widow of Her Majesty's nephew. 
Both were busy getting things ready for Her 
Majesty. The Young Empress told us that 
we must go at once to Her Majesty's bedroom 
and assist Her Majesty to dress, so we went 
at once and courtesied to her and said: "Lao 
Tsu Tsung Chi Hsiang" (old ancestor, all joy 
be with you). Her Majesty was still in bed 
and smiled to us and asked us if we had slept 
well. We told her the rooms were very com- 
fortable, etc. I thought to myself, we had slept 
very well for the little time we had, but I had 
not had half enough. The day before had been 
very hard for us and we were quite unused to it 
and it had made us very lame and sore running 
around so much. 

She asked us if we had had any breakfast and 
we told her not yet. She scolded Li for not 
having given the order for our breakfast to be 



60 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

brought to our rooms and said: "You must not 
feel like strangers, order anything you may 
want." Then she arose and started to dress. 
She put on her white silk socks first, having slept 
in her pantaloons as is the custom, and tied them 
at the ankle with pretty ribbon. I must tell 
you here that although she always slept in her 
clothes, she changed them for clean ones every 
day. Then she put on a pale pink shirt of soft 
material and over that a short silk gown, that was 
embroidered with bamboo leaves, as she always 
wore low heeled shoes in the morning and con- 
sequently could not wear her long gowns. After 
she had dressed she walked over to a window in 
front of which were two long tables covered with 
toilet articles of every kind and description. 

As she was washing her face and dressing her 
hair, she said to my mother that she could not 
bear to have the servant girls, eunuchs, or old 
women, touch her bed, that they were dirty, so 
the Court ladies must make it. When she said 
this she turned to my sister and myself, we were 
standing a little to one side, and said: "You two 
must not think for a moment that the Court la- 
dies do servant's work, but you know I am an old 
woman and could easily be your grandmother 
and it will do you no harm to work a little for 
me. When it comes your turn, you can super- 
intend the others and don't have to do the work 



IN ATTENDANCE ON HER MAJESTY 61 

with your own hands." Then Her Majesty said 
to me: "Der Ling you are a great help to me in 
every way and I make you my first lady-in-wait- 
ing. You must not work too much for you will 
have to make all the arrangements for the audi- 
ences for foreigners and you will have to inter- 
pret for me. I also want you to look after my 
jewels and don't want you to do rough work 
at all. Roon Ling (my sister) can choose what 
she likes to do. I have two more besides you, 
Sze Gurgur and Yuen Da ISTai Nai, making four 
altogether and you must all work together. It 
is not necessary to be too polite to them and if 
they are not nice to you, you let me know." 
Although I was very happy at receiving this ap- 
pointment, I knew that according to custom I 
must refuse it, so I thanked Her Majesty very 
kindly for the honor she had given me and said 
that I did not know enough to hold such an 
important position and would prefer to be just 
an ordinary Court lady, and that I would learn 
as quickly as possible to be useful to her. She 
hardly let me finish what I was saying, when she 
laughed and said: "Stop! don't say anything like 
that; you are too modest, which shows you are 
very clever and not a bit conceited. I am sur- 
prised to see what a perfect little Manchu lady 
you are, knowing even such small etiquette as 
this, although you have spent many years outside 



62 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

of China." She was very fond of making fun 
and liked very much to tease, and said that I 
could try and if she saw that I could not do the 
work, she would scold me and put someone else 
in my place. After all this that she had said, I 
accepted the appointment and went over to her 
bed to see how it was made, and I found that it 
was very easy work to do. As this would be one 
of my duties, I watched while the bed was being 
fixed. First of all, after Her Majesty had 
risen, the bedclothes were taken out into the 
courtyard by the eunuchs and aired, then the bed, 
which was made of beautifully carved wood, was 
brushed off with a sort of whiskbroom, and 
a piece of felt placed over it. Then three 
thick mattresses made of yellow brocade were 
placed over the felt. After this came the sheets 
made of different colored soft silk, and over the 
whole thing was placed a covering of plain yel- 
low satin embroidered with gold dragons and 
blue clouds. She had a great many pillows, all 
beautifully embroidered, which were placed on 
the bed during the daytime ; but had a particular 
one stuffed with tea leaves on which she slept. 
It is said that stuffing the pillow on which you 
sleep with tea leaves is good for the eyes. In 
addition to all these, she had another very curi- 
ously shaped pillow about twelve inches long in 
the middle of which was a hole about three inches 



IN ATTENDANCE ON HER MAJESTY 6S 

square. It was stuffed with dried flowers, and 
the idea of the hole was that when she laid on it 
she could place her ear in this hole and in this 
way hear any and every sound, I suppose in that 
way no one could come on her unawares. 

Besides this last yellow embroidered cover, 
there were six covers of different colors, pale 
mauve, blue, pink, green and violet, and were 
placed one on top of the other. Over the top 
of the bed was a frame of wood } jandsc nely 
carved and from this frame white crepe curtains, 
beautifully embroidered, hung, and numerous lit- 
tle gauze silk bags filled with scent were sus- 
pended from the carved work of the frame. The 
odor from these bags was very strong and made 
one feel sick until they became used to it. Her 
Majesty was also very fond of musk and used 
it on all occasions. 

It took us about fifteen minutes to make the 
bed, and when I had finished, I turned around 
and saw that Her Majesty was dressing her hair, 
I stood beside her Majesty while the eunuch 
was dressing it and saw that as old as she was, 
she still had beautiful long hair which was as soft 
as velvet and raven black. She parted it in the 
center and brought it low at the back of her ears, 
and the back braid was brushed up on the top 
of her head and made it into a tight knot. When 
she had finished doing this, she was ready to have 



64^ TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

the Gu'un Dzan (Manchu headdress) placed on 
and pinned through the knot with two large pins. 
Her Majesty always dressed her hair first and 
then washed her face. She was as fussy and 
particular as a young girl and would give it to 
the eunuch if he did not get it just to suit her. 
She had dozens of bottles of all kinds of perfume, 
also perfumed soap. When she had finished 
washing her face, she dried it on a soft towel and 
sprayed it with a kind of glycerine made of 
honey and flower petals. After that she put 
some kind of strong scented pink powder on her 
face. 

When she had completed her toilet, she turned 
to me and said : "It must seem to you quite funny 
to see an old lady like me taking so much care 
and pains in dressing and fixing up. Well! I 
like to dress myself up and to see others dress 
nicely. It always gives me pleasure to see pretty 
girls dressed nicely; it makes you want to be 
young again yourself." I told her that she 
looked quite young and was still beautiful, and 
that although we were young we would never 
dare compare ourselves with her. This pleased 
her very much, as she was very fond of compli- 
ments, and I took great pains that morning to 
study her and to find out what she liked and 
what she didn't. 

After this Her Majesty took me into another 



IN ATTENDANCE ON HER MAJESTY 65 

room and showed me where her jewels were kept. 
This room was covered with shelves on three 
sides of the room from top to bottom, on which 
were placed piles of ebony boxes all containing 
jewels. Small yellow strips were pasted on some 
of the boxes on which was written the contents. 
Her Majesty pointed to a row of boxes on the 
right side of the room and said: "Here is where 
I keep my favorite everyday jewels, and some 
day you must go over them and see that they are 
all there. The rest are all jewels which I wear 
on special occasions. There are about three thou- 
sand boxes in this room and I have a lot more 
locked up in my safety room, which I will show 
you when I am not busy." Then she said: "I 
am sorry you cannot read and write Chinese, 
otherwise I would give you a list of these things 
and you could keep a check on them." I was 
very much surprised at this and wondered who 
had told her I couldn't. I was anxious to know, 
but did not dare to ask her, so I told her that 
although I was not a scholar, I had studied 
Chinese for some time and could read and write 
a little, that if she would give me a list I would 
try and read it. She said : "That is funny, some- 
one told me the first day you were here, I forget 
now who it was, that you could not read or write 
your own language at all." While she was say- 
ing this, she was looking all around the room and 



66 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

I was sure she knew whp it was that had told 
her, but she would not tell me. Then she said: 
"When we have time this afternoon, I will go 
over this list with you. Bring me those five 
boxes on the first row of shelves." I brought the 
boxes to her room and placed them on the table. 
She opened the first one and it contained a most 
beautiful peony made of coral and jade and each 
petal trembled like a real flower. This flower 
was made by stringing the petals which were 
made of coral on very fine brass wire, also the 
leaves which were made of pure jade. She took 
this flower and placed it on the right side of her 
headdress. Then she opened another box and 
took from it a magnificent jade butterfly made in 
the same way. This was an invention of her 
own and it was done by carving the coral and 
jade into petals and leaves and boring holes in 
the lower ends through which brass wire was run. 
The other two boxes contained bracelets and 
rings of different patterns. There was a pair of 
gold bracelets set with pearls, another pair set 
with jade, with a piece of jade hanging from the 
end of a small gold chain, etc. The last two 
contained chains of pearls, the like of which I 
never saw before, and I fell in love with them at 
once. Her Majesty took one which was made 
into a plum blossom string by winding a circle 
of five pearls around a larger one, then one single 



IN ATTENDANCE ON HER MAJESTY 67 

pearl, then another circle of five pearls around a 
large one, and so on, making quite a long chain, 
which she suspended from one of the buttons of 
her gown. 

At this juncture one of the Court ladies came 
in carrying several gowns for Her Majesty to se- 
lect from. She looked at them and said that none 
of them suited her, to take them back and bring 
more. I had a look at them and thought they 
were perfectly lovely, such pretty colors and so 
beautifully embroidered. In a short while the 
same Court lady came back carrying more, and 
from these Her Majesty selected a sea-green one 
embroidered all over with white storks. She put 
this gown on and looked at herself in the mirror 
for a while, then took off her jade butterfly. She 
said: "You see I am very particular about little 
details. The jade butterfly is too green and it 
kills my gown. Put it back in the box and bring 
me a pearl stork in NTo. 35 box." I went back 
to the jewel room and fortunately found No. 
35 box and brought it to her. She opened the 
box and took from it a stork made entirely of 
pearls set in silver, the bird's bill being made of 
coral. The pearls making the body of the bird 
were so cleverly set that the silver could not be 
seen at all unless one looked at it very closely. 
It was a most magnificent piece of workmanship 
and the pearls were of perfect color and shape. 



68 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

Her Majesty took it and placed it in her hair 
and did look very graceful and pretty. Then she 
picked out a mauve-colored short jacket, also em- 
broidered with storks, which she put on over her 
gown. Her handkerchief and shoes were also 
embroidered with storks and .when she was en- 
tirely dressed she looked like the stork lady. 

Just as she had finished dressing, the Emperor 
Kwang Hsu came into the bedroom dressed in 
his official clothes. These clothes were exactly 
like other official clothes, except that he had no 
button on his hat and did not wear the peacock 
feather. He knelt down before Her Majesty 
and said: "Chin Baba, Chi Hsiang" (dear father, 
all joy be with you). It may seem curious that 
the Emperor and all of us should call Her Maj- 
esty father, and the reason why this was done 
was because Her Majesty always wanted to be 
a man and compelled everyone to address her as 
if she were actually one. .This was only one of 
her many peculiarities. 

I did not know whether to courtesy to the Em- 
peror or not, not having received any orders as 
to what I should do. However, I thought it 
better to be too polite than not enough, so I 
waited until either he or Her Majesty went out 
of the room, as we were not allowed to salute or 
courtesy to anyone in her presence. In a little 
while the Emperor went out and I followed him 




The Empress Dowager dressed in her bamboo leaf embroidered 
robe and wearing her famous pearl cape made of 
three thousand five hundred pearls of per- 
fect shape and color 



IN ATTENDANCE ON HER MAJESTY 69 

out into the hall and just as I was in the act of 
courtesying Her Majesty came out. She looked 
at me in a very peculiar way, as if she did not 
approve of what I had done, but said nothing. 
I felt very uncomfortable and made up my mind 
that being too polite did not always pay after 
all. 

I then returned to the room again and saw a 
small eunuch placing several yellow boxes on a 
table at the left side of the room. Her Majesty 
seated herself in a large chair, which was called 
her little throne, and this eunuch opened the 
boxes, took a yellow envelope from each box and 
handed them to Her Ma j esty. She opened these 
envelopes with an ivory paper knife and read 
their contents. They were memorials from the 
heads of the different Boards, or from the Vice- 
roys of the different Provinces. The Emperor 
had come back and was standing at the side of 
this table and after she had finished reading, she 
handed them over to him. While all this was 
being done I stood at the back of her chair. I 
watched the Emperor as the different papers 
were handed to him and noticed that it did not 
take him very long to finish reading their con- 
tents. After he was finished reading the papers, 
they were placed back in the boxes. During all 
this time absolute silence was maintained. Just 
as they had finished the head eunuch came in. 



TO TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

knelt down and announced that Her Majesty's 
chair was ready. She immediately got up and 
went out of the house, we following her, and I 
took her arm while she was descending the steps 
to go to her chair. When she had entered the 
chair to go to the Audience Hall, the Emperor 
and Young Empress and we all followed in our 
usual places, the eunuchs, amahs and servant 
girls carrying all the things exactly the same as 
was done the first day I came to the Palace. 
When we arrived at the Audience Hall, we took 
our places behind the big screen and the audience 
commenced. I was very curious to find out just 
how the audiences were conducted and wanted to 
listen to what was going on, but the Court ladies 
would not leave me alone. However, when they 
were all talking together with my sister, I stole 
away into a corner where I could sit and rest 
and listen to the conversation between the differ- 
ent Ministers and Her Majesty. Trust a 
woman for being inquisitive. 

The first part of the audience I could not hear 
very well, as so many people were whispering and 
talking at the same time, but by peeping through 
the carved- work of the screen, I could see a Gen- 
eral talking to Her Majesty. I also saw the 
members of the Grand Council come in headed by 
Prince Ching, who was the Councillor-in-Chief. 
After the General had finished. Her Majesty 



IN ATTENDANCE ON HER MAJESTY 71 

talked with Prince Ching about the appointment 
of some minor officials, a list of whose names had 
been handed to her. She looked over this list and 
spoke about several of the people, but Prince 
Ching suggested some others, saying: "Although 
these people whose names have been submitted to 
Your Majesty should receive appointments, 
those that I have suggested are better fitted for 
the positions." Her Majesty said: "All right, 
I leave it all to you." Then I heard Her Maj- 
esty say to the Emperor, "Is that correct?" and 
he replied, "Yes." This finished the Audience 
for the morning and the Ministers and Grand 
Councillors took their leave. We came out from 
behind the screen to Her Majesty and she said 
that she wanted to go for a walk to get some 
fresh air. The servant girls brought her a mir- 
ror, placed it on a table, and Her Majesty took 
off her heavy headdress, leaving the simple knot 
on the top of her head, which was quite becom- 
ing. She wanted to change some of the flower 
jewels and I opened a box which one of the 
eunuchs had brought and took out some very 
dainty flowers made of pearls. I handed her 
one which she placed at the side of this knot, then 
she selected a jade dragonfly which she placed 
on the other side. She said these small flowers 
were favorites of hers and she liked to wear them 
when she took off her heavy headdress. I was 



72 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

watching her very closely and wondered what I 
was going to do with the flowers she had taken 
off. I had not brought the boxes to put them 
in, as I did not know she was going to change 
again after the audience, and felt a little nerv- 
ous as to what was the right thing to do, or as 
to what she would say. However, I saw a 
eunuch come in carrying these boxes and felt 
much relieved. I quickly placed the things in 
the boxes where they belonged. 



CHAPTER SEVEN 

SOME INCIDENTS OF THE COURT] 

My first day with Her Majesty was very try- 
ing as I did not know just what she wanted or 
how she wanted things done, and no one seemed 
wilHng to teU me; but by watching very closely 
I was soon able to grasp the situation. After I 
had finished putting the things in the boxes I 
did not know whether to take them back to the 
jewel room or not, or whether to wait until Her 
Majesty ordered me, and again I was in a quan- 
dary. I saw she was talking to my mother, so 
I waited a httle time and finally made up my 
mind I would risk it and take them back, which 
I did. As I was returning I met Her Majesty 
in the big courtyard. She had just changed her 
gown again and looked much shorter as she had 
also changed her shoes for ones with lower heels. 
This gown was made of heavy sky-blue crepe 
with no embroidery at all, just trimmed with 
pale pink ribbons, and she looked very nice in 
it. When Her Majesty saw me, she asked me; 
* 'Where have you been?" I told her that I had 
just been putting her jewels away. Then she 

73 



74 TWO YEARS IN THE FOEBIDDEN CITY 

said: "Has anyone told you to put them away 
as soon as I am finished with them? I forgot 
to tell you this morning, although I had meant 
to." I said that no one had told me anything, 
that I was afraid to have the eunuchs taking such 
valuable things here and there, that I was sure 
that she did not want to use them any more, so 
I thought it would be safer to put them away in 
the jewel room again. Her Majesty looked at 
me and said: "I can see that these girls don't tell 
you anything and I am very glad to see that you 
have done just the right thing. That is why I 
thought someone must have told you what to do. 
Anything you want to know you can ask me, but 
don't talk to these mean people here." I could 
see from this that there must be some jealousy 
among them and decided that I was well able to 
find my own way, as I knew Her Majesty liked 
me and would help me out. 

Her Majesty walked along a little way, then 
laughed and said to me: "Don't I look more com- 
fortable now? I am going for a long walk and 
take lunch on the top of the hill. There is a nice 
place up there and I am sure you will like it. 
Come, let us go." 

The Emperor had gone back to his own Pal- 
ace, and the head eunuch had also disappeared. 
As we were walking along, Her Majesty was 
talking and smiling as if she had never a care 



SOME INCIDENTS OF THE COURT 75 

or trouble in the world, or any important ques- 
tions of state to settle. I thought from what I 
had seen so far that she had a very sweet dispo- 
sition. She looked back and said: "Just see how 
many people are following us." I turned and 
saw the same crowd that had accompanied Her 
Majesty earlier in the day to the Audience Hall. 

After passing out of the large courtyard on 
the West side, we came to a large, long veranda 
running in a zig-zag fashion along the front of 
the lake, and it was so long that I could not see 
the end of it. It was very prettily made of solid 
carved work from one end to the other. Electric 
lights were hanging from the ceiling at intervals, 
and when they were lighted at night, made a 
beautiful sight. 

Her Majesty was a very fast walker and we 
had to step lively to keep up with her. The 
eunuchs and the servant girls walked on the right 
side and only one of the eunuchs was allowed to 
walk behind us, and he was the one who carried 
Her Majesty's yellow satin stool, which, like her 
dog, went everywhere she did. This stool she 
used to rest on when taking a walk. We walked 
for quite a long while and I began to feel tired, 
but Her Majesty, as old as she was, was still 
walking very fast and did not appear to be the 
least bit tired. She asked me if I liked the Pal- 
ace and whether I would be satisfied to live with 



76 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

her, etc. I told her that it was a great pleasure 
for me to serve her, that it had been my dream 
for years, and now that my dream had come true, 
I could not help but be satisfied. 

We finally arrived at the place where the mar- 
ble boat was kept, and I was about finished. I 
never saw such vitality in an old woman in my 
life as Her Majesty had, and it was no wonder 
that she had ruled this vast Empire of China so 
successfully for so many years. 

This boat was magnificent, being one mass of 
carved work, but the inside was all spoiled. Her 
Majesty showed us all over the boat, and whilst 
we were looking at the ruin, she said: "Look at 
those colored glasses in the windows and these 
beautiful paintings. They were all spoiled by 
the foreign troops in 1900. I don't intend to 
have it repaired as I don't want to forget the 
lesson I have learned and this is a good re- 
minder." After we had been standing there a 
few minutes, a eunuch who had been carrying 
the famous satin stool, came forward, and Her 
Majesty sat down to rest. While we were talk- 
ing I noticed two large and very fancy -looking 
boats approaching us, with several smaller ones 
coming along behind. As they came nearer I 
saw that they were also very beautifully made, 
and looked like floating pagodas of beautifully 
carved natural wood. The windows of the 



SOME INCIDENTS OF THE COURT TTi 

pagodas were hung with red gauze curtains and 
all was trimmed with silk. Her Majesty said: 
"There are the boats. We must go over to the 
west side of the lake and have luncheon." Her 
Majesty got up and walked to the edge of the 
lake, two eunuchs supporting her, one at each 
side. She stepped into the boat and we all fol- 
lowed her example. The inside of the boat was 
very nicely furnished with carved ebony furni- 
ture with blue satin cushions, one with many pots 
of flowers on both sides of the window. There 
were two more cabins behind this sitting room. 
Her Majesty told me to go in to see those two 
rooms. One little room was a dressing room 
full of toilet articles. The other one had two 
couches and several small chairs for Her 
Majesty to rest whenever she felt tired. Her 
Majesty sat on her throne and ordered us to sit 
on the floor. The eunuchs brought in red satin 
cushions for us to sit upon. To sit on the floor 
is all right for Chinese clothes, but of course it 
was out of the question with Paris gowns, and 
I felt very uncomfortable, but did not like to 
say so. I wanted to change into Manchu clothes, 
for I knew they were comfortable and easy to 
work in, but having received no order from Her 
Majesty, I did not dare to suggest it. Her 
Majesty noticed how very uncomfortable we 
looked sitting on the floor. She said: "You can 



Y8 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

stand up if you want to and just watch those 
boats following us." I put my head out of the 
window and noticed the Young Empress and 
several other Court ladies were in the other boat. 
They waved to me, and I waved back. Her 
Majesty laughed and said to me: "I give you 
this apple to throw to them." While saying this 
she took one from the big plates that stood upon 
the center table. I tried very hard, but the 
apple did not reach the other boat, but went to 
the bottom of the lake. Her Majesty laughed 
and told me to try again, but I failed. Finally, 
she took one and threw it herself. It went 
straight to the other boat and hit one of the 
ladies' head. We all laughed quite heartily. 
Then I began to enjoy myself. There were 
several open boats full of eunuchs, and another 
one of servant girls, amahs and the rest with 
Her Majesty's luncheon. The lake was beau- 
tiful and looked so green in the sun. I told Her 
Majesty that this color reminded me of the sea. 
She said: "You have travelled so much, and yet 
you have not had enough, but are still thinking 
of the sea. You must not go abroad any more, 
but stay with me. I want you to enjoy this 
sailing on this lake instead of the rough sea." 
I promised her that I would be only too happy 
to stay with her. I must say the truth, I did 
enjoy the lovely scenery, the beautiful weather. 



SOME INCIDENTS OF THE COURT 79 

superb sunshine, with Her Majesty so kind to 
me and talking to me in such a motherly way 
made me love her more and more every minute 
I was there. I was so extremely happy there 
that even Paris pleasures had gone out of my 
memory entirely. 

At last we arrived at another part of the lake. 
This was more of a stream, very narrow, just 
wide enough for one boat to pass. On both 
sides of the bank were planted drooping willow 
trees that reminded me of the Chinese Fairy 
tales I have read. This time I saw the servant 
girls, amahs, and also eunuchs carrying boxes, 
walking on both sides of the shore. Only two 
boats were going then, the Young Empress' and 
ours. Her Majesty said: "We will arrive at 
the bottom of the hill in a few minutes." When 
we came near the shore I saw her yellow chair 
and several red chairs waiting. We landed and 
walked to the chairs. I watched Her Majesty 
get into hers and noticed this was not the same 
chair she used this morning. This little one was, 
of course, of yellow, with yellow poles, and two 
eunuchs carried it, with yellow rope across their 
shoulders, and four eunuchs supported the poles, 
one on each corner of the chair. They were just 
going to raise her chair up when she said: "Yii 
tai tai (Lady Yii) I give you and your daugh- 
ters special favor and give you a red chair with 



80 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

red cord that I have given to only a few people." 
The Young Empress looked at us, which I un- 
derstood at once was meant for us to kowtow to 
her, which we did, and waited until the Empress 
got into hers. Then we went to search for ours. 
To my surprise our own eunuchs were standing 
waiting beside our chairs. On the poles I noticed 
that my name was written and I asked our 
eunuch the reason. He said that Her Majesty 
gave the order the night before. It was a lovely 
ride going to the top of the hill. I saw Her 
Majesty's chair in front, and the Young Em- 
press'. They looked to me quite dangerous in 
ascending that way, and the men at the back 
of the chair had to raise the poles above their 
heads so as to make the chair the same level 
in ascending. I was quite nervous and was 
very much afraid that they might fall off and 
injure me. Our eunuchs were walking beside 
our chairs. I said to one of them that I was 
afraid the chair bearers might slip. He told 
me to look back of my chair, which I did, and 
to my surprise they had the poles raised up also 
above their heads, and I did not feel it at all. 
He told me that these chair bearers practice for 
such purposes and that there was no danger at 
all. It made my heart stop beating looking back 
and seeing the other Court ladies in their chairs 
way below mine, the eunuchs and servant girls 




y,. 




t*^'Ki H 





The Empress Dowager, Lady Yii, Lady Roong Ling 

(mother and sister of the writer) and the writer, going 

down Peony Hill in the winter time 



SOME INCIDENTS OF THE COURT 81 

walking, for fear I might fall off at any time. 
At last we arrived at the top of the hill. We 
helped Her Majesty to alight and followed her 
into the most lovely building I ever saw, the best 
one in the Summer Palace to my idea (name of 
this pavilion, Ching Fo Ker). This Palace 
had only two rooms, with windows on every side. 
One could see everywhere. Her Majesty used 
one large one to take her luncheon in and the 
other as a toilet room. I noticed that wherever 
we went we found Her Majesty's toilet room. 
Her Majesty took us around the compound and 
showed us the lovely flowers planted everywhere. 
One of the young eunuchs told me that Her 
Majesty's dainties were ready. That was my 
first day of real work. I went out and found 
two large yellow boxes of different kinds of can- 
dies and fruits, as I have before mentioned. I 
carried two plates at a time, and finished in nine 
times, placing them on a square table near her. 
She was talking to my mother then about flow- 
ers. I noticed that although she was talking, she 
was watching me at the same time. I placed the 
plates upon the table very carefully, and already 
having noticed the day before what were her 
favorite dishes, and placed these near her. She 
smiled at me and said: "You have done it very 
nicely. And how do you know that these are 
my favorites and have placed them near me? 



S2 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

Who told you?" I replied that no one had told 
me anything and that I had noticed the day 
before what Lao Tsu Tsung liked (according to 
the Manchu custom one must address a superior 
or one's parents in the third person). Her 
Majesty said: "I can see you use your heart in 
everything (in China people say heart instead 
of head ) and are not like the crowd I have here ; 
they haven't the brains of a bird." She was soon 
busy eating, and gave me some candies, and told 
me to eat right there in her presence. Of course 
I never forgot to thank her, for I thought I had 
rather thank her too much than too little. She 
told me: "Whenever I give you small things 
you need not kowtow. Just say : 'Hsieh Lao Tsu 
Tsung Shang' (Thank the old ancestor), that is 
enough." After a little while she finished eat- 
ing, and told me to take the dishes away. She 
said: "To-day is your day, so these things are 
yours. Take them out and sit down on the 
veranda and enjoy yourself. You see I could 
not eat all. There are lots of things left. If 
you like you can tell your own eunuch to send 
them to your room." I placed the little dishes 
back in the boxes and took them to the veranda. 
There I placed them upon the table and told the 
Young Empress to eat some. I did not know 
whether it was right to offer them to her or not 
and thought I could not do her any harm, even 



SOME INCIDENTS OF THE COURT 83 

if I tried. She said all right, that she would eat 
some. I took a piece of candy and had just put 
it into my mouth when I heard Her Majesty 
calhng my name. I hurried in and found her 
sitting at her table ready to take her lunch. She 
said : "What else did Mdme. Plan^on say yester- 
day ? Was she really pleased ? Do you think 
they, the foreigners, really like me? I don't 
think so; on the contrary I know they haven't 
forgotten the Boxer Rising in Kwang Hsu's 26th 
year. I don't mind owning up that I like our 
old ways the best, and I don't see any reason 
why we should adopt the foreign style. Did 
any of the foreign ladies ever tell you that I 
am a fierce-looking old woman?" I was very 
much surprised that she should call me in and 
ask me such questions during her meal. She 
looked quite serious and it seemed to me she was 
quite annoyed. I assured her that no one ever 
said anything about Her Majesty but nice 
things. The foreigners told me how nice she 
was, and how graceful, etc. This seemed to 
please her, and she smiled and said: "Of course 
they have to tell you that, just to make you feel 
happy by saying that your sovereign is perfect, 
but I know better. I can't worry too much, but 
I hate to see China in such a poor condition. 
Although the people around me seem to comfort 
me by telling that almost every nation feels very 



84> TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

friendly towards China, I don't think that is 
true. I hope we will be strong some day." 
While she was saying this I noticed her worried 
expression. I did not know what to say, but 
tried to comfort her by saying that that time will 
come, and we are all looking forward to it. I 
wanted to advise her on some points, but seeing 
that she was angry, I thought I had better not 
make any suggestions that day, but wait until 
I had another opportunity. I felt sorry for her, 
and would have given anything in the world to 
help her by telling what the general opinion of 
her was so as to let her know the truth, which no 
one dared to tell her. Something told me to bs 
silent. I kept thinking all the time she was talk- 
ing to me, and finally made up my mind that 
the time was not yet ripe for me to make any 
suggestion. I had grown to love her very much, 
so I wanted to take care not to offend her; that 
would probably finish my ambition. I wanted to 
study her first thoroughly and then try to influ- 
ence her to reform China. 

I stood all the time while she was eating. She 
got up from the table and handed me her napkin 
(this napkin was made of a piece of silk a yard 
square, woven in many colors ) . One corner was 
turned in, and a golden butterfly was fastened 
to it. It had a hook at the back of this butter- 
fly so as to hook on her collar. She said: "I 



SOME INCIDENTS OF THE COURT 85 

am sure you must be hungry. Go and tell the 
Young Empress and the rest of the people to 
come and eat. You can eat anything you want 
from these tables, so eat aU you can." I was 
very, very hungry. Just imagine, I had been up 
since 5 :00 o'clock and had only a light breakfast, 
and had walked a great deal. It was almost 
noon when Her Majesty sat down at her table. 
She ate so slowly, too. While I stood there 
talking to her I thought she would never finish. 
She ate a good meal. The Young Empress 
stood at the head of the table, and we all stood on 
either side. We did not like to be forward, so 
we stood at the other end of the table. The food 
was very much the same as the first day we were 
there. Her Majesty came out from the inner 
room, had just finished washing her face and 
hands, and had changed into another gown. 
This one was simple, but very pretty. It was 
woven with pink and gray raw silks, which gave 
it a changeable light whenever she moved. She 
came out and said: "I want to see you people 
eat; why is it that you are standing at the end 
of the table, the best dishes are not there? All 
of you come over here and eat near the Young 
Empress." So we moved from our end of the 
table to the other. Her Majesty stood near me, 
and pointed to a smoked fish and wanted me to 
try it, as it was her favorite, and said: "Make 



N 



86 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

yourselves at home. You loiow you have to 
fight your own battles here with this crowd. Of 
course you can come and tell me if anyone does 
not treat you fair." Her Majesty then went 
out, saying that she would walk a bit. I noticed 
that some of the court ladies did not look 
pleased, seeing that Her Majesty paid so much 
attention to us. I could see they were a little 
jealous of me, but that did not worry me in the 
least. 

After we got through our luncheon, I followed 
the Young Empress, for it was all so new to me, 
and I did not know what I must do — ^whether 
to join Her Majesty or not. After seeing that 
they were jealous of me, I paid strict attention 
to everything, so as not to make any mistake in 
doing my work and let them have the satisfac- 
tion of laughing at me. I would not give them 
the chance. I heard Her Majesty talking to the 
eunuchs who looked after the garden, about some 
branches which ought to be cut down, saying they 
were lazy. So we went to her. She said to us : 
"You see I have to look after everything myself, 
if not, my flowers would be ruined. I can't de- 
pend on them at all. I wonder what they are 
good for. They ought to look around every day 
and cut down the dead branches and leaves. 
They have not been punished for several days and 
they are looking forward to it." She laughed 



SOME INCIDENTS OF THE COURT 87 

and said: "I will not disappoint them, but give 
them all they wish to have." I thought these peo- 
ple must be idiots, looking forward to a whip- 
ping, and wondered who would whip them. Her 
Majesty turned to me and said: "Have you ever 
witnessed such an operation?" I told her that I 
had, having seen the convicts being whipped at a 
Magistrate's Yamen when I was a little girl liv- 
ing at Shansi (on the Yangtsze). She said: 
*'That is nothing. The convicts are not half so 
wicked as these eunuchs. Of course they deserve 
a heavier punishment when they are bad." Her 
Majesty said that I should learn to play dice with 
her, as she never had enough people to play with, 
so we went back to the same room where she had 
taken her lunch. A square table was in the mid- 
dle of this large room and a little throne of Her 
Majesty's, facing south (her favorite direction) . 
Her Majesty sat on her throne and said to me: 
"I will show you how to play this game. Do 
you think you know enough Chinese to read this 
map?" I noticed a large map, the same size as 
the table, and laid upon it, drawn in different 
colors. In the center of the map was written 
the direction of the game. It said: "This game 
is called the 'Eight Fairies Travel across the Sea.' 
The names are Lu Hsien, Chang Hsien, Li 
Hsien, Lan Hsien, Hang Hsien, Tsao Hsien 
and Hain Hsien, These seven were mascuhne 



88 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

fairies. Hor Hsien was the only lady fairy." 
This map was the map of the Chinese Empire, 
and the names of the different provinces were 
written on the drawing. There were eight pieces 
of round ivory, about one inch and a half in diam- 
eter and a quarter of an inch thick. The names 
of these fairies were engraved upon them. This 
game could be played either by eight people or 
four people, when each person had to take two 
fairies' places, instead of one. A porcelain bowl 
was placed in the center of the map, to compare 
the point by throwing six dice into the bowl. 
For instance, four people play. One throws 
these six dice into the bowl and counts the points 
on them. The highest that one could get was 36, 
and should 36 be thrown the fairy should go to 
Hangchow to enjoy the beautiful scenery. This 
person threw dice for Lu Hsien and had 36 
points and placed this ivory piece of Lu Hsien 
on Hangchow upon the map. The same person 
has to throw another time for another fairy, so 
each person throws twice if four people play the 
game, and once if played by eight. These dif- 
ferent points count different provinces. They 
are counted thus: — Six dice ahke. One pair in 
six dice, to three pairs. The lowest was the 
double 1, 2, 3. If any unfortunate fairy got this 
he should go on exile and be left out altogether. 
Any one of the fairies that travelled round the 



SOME INCIDENTS OF THE COURT 89 

map to reach the Imperial Palace, the first, was 
the wimier. 

I read this to Her Majesty. She seemed to 
be quite pleased, and said: "I had no idea that 
you could read so well. This game was my own 
invention and I taught three Court ladies to 
play. I had a very hard time teaching them. 
I also taught them how to read Chinese in order 
to play the game, but it took them so long to 
learn anything that I got quite discouraged 
before I got through with them. I am sure you 
know how to play it now." I was very much 
surprised to hear that these Court ladies were 
as ignorant as this. I thought they must be 
excellent scholars, so did not dare to show my 
knowledge of Chinese literature. We began to 
play the game. Her Majesty was lucky. 
The two fairies held by her were way ahead of 
ours. One of the Court ladies said to me : "You 
will be surprised to see that Lao Tsu Tsung is 
always the winner.'* Her Majesty smiled and 
said to me: "You will never be able to catch my 
fairies." She said : "You are the first day here to 
play this game and if any of your fairies beat 
any of mine I will give you a nice present, so 
hurry up." I thought I could never get ahead 
of her fairies, for they were so far ahead of mine, 
but I tried hard, as Her Majesty told me to 
call out for the points I wanted. I did, but 



90 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

it came out something so different that it amused 
her a great deal. I had no idea how long we 
were playing this game. We counted who came 
next, and that was one of my fairies, so Her 
Majesty said to me: "I was sure you could not 
beat me, as no one could. Seeing that yours are 
next to mine, I will give you the present just 
the same." While she was saying this she told 
a servant girl to bring her some embroidered 
handkerchiefs. This girl brought several col- 
ored ones to her, and she asked me what color I 
preferred. She handed me a pink one and a 
pale blue one, all embroidered with purple 
wisteria, and said: "These two are the best, and 
I want you to take them." I was just going 
to thank her by bowing to the ground, but I 
found that my legs could not move. I tried 
hard and succeeded finally, with difficulty. Her 
Majesty laughed very heartily at me and said: 
"You see you are not accustomed to standing 
so long and you cannot bend your knees any 
more." Although my legs were sore I thought 
I had better not show it, but smiled and told her 
that it was nothing, only my legs were a little 
stiff, that was all. She said: "You must go and 
sit on the veranda and rest a minute." I was 
only too glad to sit down, so I went to the 
veranda and found the Young Empress sitting 
there with several Court ladies. The Young 



t^ 



a- 
o 










SOME INCIDENTS OF THE COURT 91 

Empress said: "You must be tired standing so 
long. Come and sit near me." My legs were 
very stiff and my back was tired. Of course 
Her Majesty did not know how uncomfortable 
we were while she was sitting on her cozy throne. 
Foreign attire is out of the question for the Im- 
perial Palace of Peking. I had hoped that Her 
Majesty would tell us to change into our Manchu 
gowns. I noticed that she asked many questions 
every day about foreign costumes, and she said: 
"The foreign costimie is not any prettier than 
ours and I should say they must be quite uncom- 
fortable round one's waist. I wouldn't be 
squeezed that way for anything." Although she 
was saying such things she did not suggest that 
we should give them up, so we had to wait 
patiently for her orders. The Young Empress 
took her watch out of her pocket, and said to 
me: "This game has lasted just two hours." I 
said to her that it seemed to me longer than that. 
While we were talking I saw our own eunuchs 
bringing four round boxes, made of thin board, 
carried at each end of bamboo poles. They put 
them down near where we sat, and one of them 
brought me a cup of tea. When my mother and 
sister came the same eunuch brought another two 
cups, and there were several Court ladies talking 
with us. This eunuch did not give them any. 
I noticed at the other end of this long veranda 



92 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

there were another two boxes, exactly the same 
as these, and a big tall eunuch made tea and 
brought it to the Young Empress in a yellow 
porcelain cup, with a silver saucer and a silver 
top cover. He did not give any to the others. 

I was puzzled when one of the Court ladies sit- 
ting next to me said: "Would you mind telling 
Wang (our head eunuch) to give me a cup of 
your tea, just to save me the trouble to go and 
get it from the small room at the end of this long 
veranda?" I gave her such a surprised look, 
for I did not know that this was our tea, but I 
thought I'd just tell Wang to bring her a cup, 
and find out afterwards the reason, for I would 
give anything in the world rather than appear 
ignorant before those people. While we were 
talking Her Majesty came out. Before she 
reached the veranda I got up and told the Young 
Empress that Her Majesty was coming. I saw 
her first because I sat facing her back hall. 
Her Majesty said to us all: "It is ahnost three 
o'clock now, and I am going to rest a while. Let 
us leave here." We all stood in a line for her to 
enter her chair, and then we went to ours. It 
was quite a fast ride and we got out of our chairs 
before arriving at the courtyard of her own Pal- 
ace. We walked ahead of her chair and formed 
into another line for her to alight. She walked 
to her bedroom and we all followed. A eunuch 



SOME INCIDENTS OF THE COURT 93 

brought her a cup of hot water and another 
brought a bowl of sugar. She took her golden 
spoon and took two teaspoonfuls of sugar and 
put it into her cup of hot water, and drank it 
very slowly. She said: "You know before one 
goes to sleep or ever lies down, sugar water will 
quiet one's nerves. I always take it, and find it 
very good indeed." She took the flowers off 
from her headdress and I fixed them back in their 
boxes at once, and placed them in the jewel- 
room. When I came out of this jewel-room 
she was in bed already, and said to us : "You all 
go and rest a while. I don't need you now." 



CHAPTER EIGHT 

THE COURT LADIES 

We retired from her room, but I noticed that 
two of the Court ladies did not come out with 
us. One of them said to me: "I am glad that 
I can rest a bit to-day, for I have been sitting 
three afternoons in succession." At first I did 
not know what she meant. Then she said: "Oh, 
your turn has not come yet. We don't know 
whether you received the order or not. You 
know two of us must stay with Her Majesty dur- 
ing her afternoon siesta, to watch the eunuchs 
and the servant girls." I thought that was the 
funniest thing I had ever heard of, and wondered 
how many people would be in her room. The 
Young Empress said : "We had better go at once 
and rest ourselves, otherwise Her Majesty will 
be up again before we get the chance." Of 
course I had not the least idea how long she 
slept. So we went back to our rooms. I did 
not realize how tired I was until I sat down in 
my room. I felt finished and awfully sleepy at 
the same time, for I was not used to getting up 
at 5 o'clock. Everything was so new to me. 

94* 



THE COURT LADIES 95 

As I sat there my thoughts wandered to Paris, 
and I thought how strange it was that I used 
to go to bed at 5 o'clock after the dances, and 
here I had to get up at such a time. All the sur- 
roundings seemed new to me, seeing the eunuchs 
running here and there waiting on us, as if they 
were chambermaids. I told them that I didn't 
need them any more. I wanted them to go out 
of the room so that I could lie down a bit. They 
brought us tea and different kinds of candies, and 
asked what else was wanted. I was just going 
to change into a comfortable dress, when the 
eunuch came in and informed me that "Yo ker 
lila" (visitors have come), and two Court ladies 
came, and another girl of about seventeen came 
in. I had seen her that very morning when I 
came to the Palace, busy working, but I was not 
introduced to her. These two girls said: "We 
have come to see you and also to find out if you 
are comfortable." I thought they were kind to 
come and see me that way, but I did not like their 
faces. They introduced this mean-looking girl 
to me and told me her name was Chun Shou 
(Graceful Long Life). She did not look as if 
her Hfe would last long, being so thin and deli- 
cate. She looked sick and worn out to me. I 
did not know who she was. She courtesied to me 
and I returned to her, in a sort of half way. (I 
will explain about the courtesy. ) 



96 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

(To Her Majesty, the Emperor and the 
Young Empress, we went down and bent our 
knees, while we stood upright to the people of 
lower rank than ourselves. In this case one must 
always wait while the inferior courtesies first, 
and bend the knees a little bit in return. This 
was the way I returned Chun Shou's courtesy to 
me.) The two girls then said "Chun Shou's 
father is only a small official, so she has not much 
standing at the Court. She is not exactly a 
Court lady, but she is not a servant girl either." 
I almost laughed right out, to hear such a funny 
statement, and wondered what she must be. I 
saw her sitting down with the Court ladies that 
very morning, so of course I asked her to sit 
down, too. These two Court ladies asked me if 
I felt tired, and how I liked the Empress Dow- 
ager. I told them that Her Majesty was the 
most lovely lady I had ever seen, and that I al- 
ready loved her very much, although I had only 
been there a few days. They looked at Chun 
Shou and exchanged smiles. They did that in 
such a peculiar way that it annoyed me. They 
asked: "Do you think you would like to live 
in this place, and how long do you intend to 
stay?" I said I would love to stay long, and 
would do my best to wait on Her Majesty, and 
be useful to her, for she had been so kind towards 
us in the short time we had been there, and 



THE COURT LADIES 97 

besides, it was my duty to serve iny\ sovereign 
and country. They laughed and said ; "We pity 
you, and are sorry for you. You must not 
expect any appreciation here, no matter how hard 
you work. If you are really going to do as you 
have said just now, you will be disliked by every- 
body." 

I did not know what they were talking 
about, or what their conversation referred to. I 
thought this was so strange that I had better put 
a stop to it, so I immediately changed the sub- 
ject. I asked them who dressed their hair, and 
who made their shoes for them, as they had asked 
me. They answered my questions by saying 
that their maids did everything for them. Chun 
Shou said to these two girls: "Tell her everything 
about this Palace, and I am sure she will change 
her mind when she actually sees things for her- 
self." I didn't Hke this Chun Shou, and her face 
didn't impress me. She was a little bit of a thing, 
tiny head with thin lips. When she laughed one 
could only hear the noise she made; no expres- 
sion was on her face at all. I was just going 
to say something to them, so as not to give them 
the opportunity of gossipping, but found they 
were too cunning. They noticed that I tried 
every way to stop them, so they said: "Now let 
us tell you everything. ISTo one else will know. 
We like you very much and we want to give you 



98 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

some warning, so as to be able to protect yourself 
whenever you are in trouble." I told them that 
I would take great care to do my work and didn't 
think that I would ever get into trouble. They 
laughed and said: "That makes no difference. 
Her Majesty wiU find fault." I could not 
believe these things that they said, and intended to 
tell them that I refused to hear such statements, 
but I thought I had better listen to what they 
had to say first and not to offend them, for I 
never believed in making enemies. I then told 
them that it would be impossible for so sweet and 
kind-hearted a person like Lao Tsu Tsung (the 
old ancestor) to find fault with such helpless girls 
as we were, for we were her people, and she could 
do anything she liked with us. They said: "You 
don't know, and have no idea how wicked this 
place is ; such torture and suffering one could not 
imagine. We are sure that you think you must 
be happy to be with the great Empress Dowager, 
and proud to be her Court Lady. Your day 
hasn't come yet, for you all are new to her. Yes, 
she is extremely kind to you just now, but wait 
until she gets tired of you and then see what she 
will do. We have had enough, and know what 
the Court life is. Of course you must have heard 
that Li Lien Ying (the head eunuch) rules this 
Palace behind Lao Tsu Tsung's back. We are 
all afraid of him. He pretends that he cannot 



THE COURT LADIES 99 

influence Lao Tsu Tsung, but we always know 
the result after a long conversation consulting 
how to punish anyone. If any of us do anything 
wrong, we always go to him and beg him to help 
us out. Then he says he has no power to influ- 
ence Her Majesty, and also that he dare not tell 
her much, for she would scold him. We hate all 
the eunuchs, they are such bad people. We can 
see very plainly they are awfully polite to you 
because they can see that you are in favor. To 
receive such rudeness from them, constantly, as 
we do, is unbearable. 

"Lao Tsu Tsung is very changeable. She 
may like one person to-day, to-morrow she hates 
this same person worse than poison. She has 
moods, and has no appreciation whatsoever. 
Even Chu Tzu, the Young Empress (Chu Tzu 
means Mistress, that is to say she was mis- 
tress of us all, for the Manchus were consid- 
ered by the sovereign as slaves) is afraid of 
Li Lien Ying, and has to be very nice to him. 
In fact, we all have to be polite to him." They 
talked so long that I thought they would never 
finish. About this time Wang came in and 
brought tea for us. Suddenly I heard people 
howling in the distance, so I asked Wang what 
was the matter. The girls were listening also 
and a eunuch came flying in and told us Lao Fo 
Yeh chin la (The Great Buddha wakes up). 



100 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

The girls got up and said we must all go to see 
her, so they went. I was not at all pleased with 
their visit, and wished they hadn't come, espe- 
cially as they told me such horrible things. It 
made me quite sad to listen to the awful way they 
talked about Her Majesty. I loved her the first 
day I was there, and made up my mind to forget 
everything they had told me. 

I was cross also because I didn't have time to 
change my clothes, and had to go up to Her 
Majesty at once. I went into her bedroom, and 
found her sitting upon the bed crosslegged, with 
a small table placed on the bed in front of her. 
She smiled and asked; "Have you had a good 
rest? Did you sleep at all?" I said that I was 
not sleepy, and could not sleep in the daytime. 
She said: "When you are old like me, you will 
be able to sleep at any time. Just now you are 
young, and fond of play. I think you must have 
been on the hills to gather flowers, or walked too 
much, for you look tired." I could only say 
"Yes." The two Court ladies who had just been 
talking nonsense about Her Majesty came in, to 
assist in handing her the toilet articles. I looked 
at them, and felt ashamed for them to face her, 
after having said so many disagreeable things. 
Her Majesty washed her face and combed her 
hair, and a servant girl brought her fresh flowers, 
of white jasmine and roses. Her Majesty stuck 



THE COURT LADIES 101 

them in her hair and said to me: "I am always 
fond of fresh flowers — better than jade and 
pearls. I love to see the little plants grow, and 
I water them myself. I have been so busy ever 
since you came that I haven't been able to visit 
my plants. Tell them to get the dinner ready 
and I will take a walk afterwards." I came out 
of her room and gave the eunuch the order. As 
usual we brought httle dainties to her. By this 
time Her Majesty was dressed and was sitting in 
the large hall, playing solitaire with her domi- 
noes. The eunuch laid the tables as usual, and 
Her Majesty stopped play, and commenced to 
eat. She asked me: "How do you like this kind 
of life?" I told her that I very much enjoyed 
being with her. She said: "What kind of a 
place is this wonderful Paris I have heard so 
much about? Did you enjoy yourself while you 
were there, and do you wish to go back again? 
It must be hard for you people to leave China 
for three or four years, and I suppose you were 
all pleased when you received the order to come 
back, after your father's term was finished." 

The only thing I could say was "Yes," be- 
cause it wouldn't be nice to tell her that I was 
awfully sorry to leave Paris. She said: "I 
think we have everything in China, only the 
life is different. What is dancing? Some- 
one told me that two people hold hands and 



102 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

jump all over the room. If that is the case I 
don't see any pleasure in it at all. Do you have 
to jump up and down with men? They told me 
that old women, with white hair, dance, too." I 
explained to her about the balls given by the 
President, and all the private dances, and also 
all about the masquerade balls, etc. Her 
Majesty said: "I don't like this masquerade ball 
because you don't know whom you are dancing 
with if they are wearing a mask." I explained 
to her how carefully the people issued their invi- 
tations, and that anyone who behaved badly could 
never enter into high society. Her Ma j esty said : 
"I would like to see how you jxmip, can you 
show me a little?" I went in search of my sister, 
and found her busy talking to the Young 
Empress. I told her that Her Majesty wished 
to see how people dance, and that we must show 
her. The Young Empress and all the Court 
ladies heard this, and all said that they also wished 
to see. My sister said that she had noticed a 
large gramophone in Her Majesty's bedroom, 
and that perhaps we could find some music. I 
thought that was a good idea, and went to ask 
her for the gramophone. She said: "Oh, must 
you jump with music?" I almost laughed when 
she said that, and told her it was much nicer 
with music, as otherwise one could not keep in 
time. She ordered the eunuchs to have the 



THE COURT LADIES 103 

gramophone brought to the hall, and said: "You 
jump while I take my dinner." We looked over 
a lot of records, but they were all Chinese songs, 
but at last we found a waltz, so we started to 
dance. We could see that a lot of people were 
looking at us, who perhaps thought that we were 
crazy. When we had finished we found Her 
Majesty laughing at us. She said: "I could 
never do that. Are you not dizzy turning round 
and round? I suppose your legs must be very 
tired also. It is very pretty, and just like the 
girls used to do centuries ago in China. I know 
that it is difficult and one ought to have any 
amount of grace to do it, but I don't think 
it would look nice to see a man dancing with a 
girl Hke that. I object to the hand around the 
girl's waist ; I like to see the girls dance together. 
It would never do for China for a girl to get 
too close to a man. I know the foreigners don't 
seem to think about that at all. It shows that 
they are broader minded than us. Is it true that 
the foreigners don't respect their parents at all — ■ 
that they could beat their parents and drive them 
out of the house?" I told her that it was not 
so, and that someone had given her wrong ideas 
about foreigners. Then she said: "I know that 
perhaps sometimes one among the commonest 
class do that, and that people are apt to take it 
wrong, and conclude that all foreigners treat 



104 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

their parents that way. Now I see just the same 
thing done by the common people in China." I 
wondered who had told her such nonsense and 
made her believe it. 

After we had taken our dinner it was just half- 
past five, and Her Majesty said she would take 
a walk along the long veranda, so we followed 
her. She showed me her flowers, and said that 
she had planted them herself. Whenever Her 
Majesty went anywhere there was always a lot 
of attendants following her, exactly the same as 
when she went to the morning audiences. When 
we reached the end of this long veranda, which 
took us a quarter of an hour to walk. Her 
Majesty ordered her stool to be brought into 
one of the summer houses. These summer 
houses were built of nothing but bamboo, all the 
furniture being made of different shaped bam- 
boo. Her Majesty sat down, and one of the 
eunuchs brought tea and honeysuckle flowers. 
She ordered the eunuchs to give us tea also. Her 
Majesty said: "This is my simple way of enjoy- 
ing life. I love to see the country scenery. 
There are a great many pretty places which I 
will show you and I am sure that after you have 
seen them you will not like foreign countries 
any more. There is no scenery in the world 
which can beat the Chinese. Some returned 
Ministers from abroad said to me that the trees 



THE COURT LADIES 105 

and mountains in foreign countries looked ugly 
and savage. Is that true?" I concluded right 
away that someone had wished to please her by 
saying things about foreigners, so I told her that 
I had been in almost every country, and had 
found lovely scenery, but of course it was dif- 
ferent from China. While we were talking Her 
Majesty said that she felt chilly and asked: 
*'Are you cold? You see you have your own 
eunuchs, they are all standing around, and have 
nothing to do. Next time tell them to carry 
your wraps along with you. I think that for- 
eign clothes must be quite uncomfortable — either 
too warm or too cold. I don't see how you can 
eat, having your waist squeezed that way." Her 
Majesty got up and we all went on walking 
slowly towards her own Palace. She sat down 
on her favorite little throne in the hall and 
started to play solitaire. We came out on the 
veranda, and the Young Empress said to us: 
"You must be tired, for I know you are not used 
to doing such hard work all day long without 
stopping. You had better wear Manchu clothes, 
because they are comfortable and easy to work 
in. Look at your long train; you have to take 
it up in your hands while walking." 

I told her that I would be only too pleased to 
change the clothes, but that not having received 
an order from Her Majesty I could not make 



106 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

any suggestions. The Young Empress said: 
"No, don't ask anything, and I am sure Her 
Majesty will tell you to change by and by. Just 
now she wishes to see your Paris gowns, because 
she wants to know how foreign ladies dress on 
different occasions. She thought that some of 
the ladies came to the Garden Party dressed in 
woolen clothes. We thought that foreign ladies 
were not so extravagant as we are until we met 
Mdme. Plan^on the other day. Do you remem- 
ber what Her Majesty said to you? 'That 
Mdme. Plan9on was so different from many la- 
dies she had met, and also dressed differently.' " 
It was a chiffon dress, with hand paintings, which 
Mdme. Plan^on wore, which pleased Her Maj- 
esty very much. While I was talking with the 
Young Empress all the electric lights turned up, 
so I went to Her Majesty to see if she needed 
anything. She said: "Let us play a game of 
dice before I go to bed." We began to play the 
same thing as we had done in the afternoon. 
Her Majesty won another game, this time it took 
only an hour to finish the game. Her Majesty 
said to me: "Why can't you win once?" I knew 
she wanted to tease, so I said that my luck was 
bad. She laughed and said: "To-morrow you 
try to put your stocking on wrong side out ; that 
is a sure sign of winning." I told her that I 
would, and I knew that pleased her. During the 



THE COURT LADIES 107 

short time I was there I kept studying her most 
of the while. I could see nothing would make 
her happier than for me to obey her orders. 
Her Majesty said that she felt tired, and that 
we must bring her milk. She said to me: "I 
want you to burn incense sticks and bow to the 
ground every night to the Buddha in the next 
room before I go to bed. I hope you are not 
a Christian, for if you are I can never feel as 
if you are mine at all. Do tell me that you are 
not." I did not expect that question at all, and 
I must say that it was a very difficult question 
to answer. For my own protection I had to say 
that I had nothing to do with the Christians. I 
felt guilty at having deceived her that way, but 
it was absolutely necessary, and there was no 
other way out of it. I knew that I had to 
answer her question at once, because it would 
never do for her to see any hesitation, which 
would arouse her suspicions. Although my face 
showed nothing, my heart stopped beating for a 
while. I felt ashamed to have fooled her. The 
earliest training I had was never to be ashamed 
to tell the truth. When Her Majesty heard me 
say that I was not a Christian, she smiled and 
said: "I admire you; although you have had so 
much to do with foreigners, yet you did not adopt 
their religion. On the contrary, you still keep 
to your own. Be strong and keep it as long 



108 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

as you live. You have no idea how glad I am 
now, for I suspected you must believe in the 
foreign God. Even if you don't want to, they 
can make you believe it. Now I am ready for 
bed." 

We helped her to undress, and I, as usual, put 
away her jewels, and noticed she wore only one 
pair of jade bracelets to sleep. She changed 
into her bed clothes and lay down between the 
silk covers and said to us: "You can go now." 
We courtesied to her and withdrew from her 
bedroom. Out in the hall there was on the cold 
stone floor six eunuchs. They were the watch- 
men and must not sleep at all during the night. 
In her bedroom were two eunuchs, two servant 
girls, two old women servants and sometimes two 
Court ladies. These people also must not sleep. 
The two girls massaged her legs every night, and 
the two women were there to watch the girls, the 
two eunuchs to watch the two old women, and 
the two Court ladies to watch them all, in case 
they did any mischief. They all took turns, and 
that was the reason why sometimes two Court 
ladies must sit overnight when it happened that 
the eunuchs were not reliable. Her Majesty 
trusted the Court ladies the most. I was never 
more surprised in my life than when one of these 
six eunuchs told me in the hall, for I had asked 
what they were all doing there. 



THE COURT LADIES 109 

Later on one of the Court ladies said to me 
that it was customary for them to take turns to 
attend at Her Majesty's bedchamber in the 
morning to wake her up, and that I should take 
my turn the next morning and my sister the fol- 
lowing morning. While saying this she smiled in 
a most peculiar way. I did not understand at 
the time, but found out later. I asked her what 
I should do to wake Her Majesty, and she said: 
*' There is no particular way, you will have to 
use your own judgment; but be careful not to 
make her angry. It was my turn this morning. 
I knew that she was very tired, having had a very 
trying time the day before, so I had to make a 
little more noise than usual when waking her. 
She was very angry and scolded me dreadfully 
when she arose, as it was rather late. This very 
often happens when Her Majesty gets up late, 
as she always says that we do not make enough 
noise to wake her. However, I don't think she 
will do this to you, just now, as you are new 
here; but wait until you have been here a few 
months." What this Court lady said to me wor- 
ried me quite considerably ; but from what I had 
seen of Her Majesty so far, I could not believe 
that she would be angry with anyone who was 
doing her duty properly. 



CHAPTER NINE 

THE EMPEROR KWANG HSU 

The next day I arose earlier than usual and 
dressed in a great hurry, as I feared I might be 
late. When I got to Her Majesty's Palace 
there were a few Court ladies there sitting on 
the veranda. They smiled and asked me to sit 
down with them as it was still too early, being 
only five o'clock. I had been told to wake Her 
Majesty at five thirty. The Young Empress 
came up a few minutes later and we all courtesied 
and wished her "good morning." After talking 
with us a few minutes, she asked if Her Majesty 
was awake and which one of us was on duty that 
day. When I informed her that it was my turn, 
she immediately ordered me to go to Her 
Majesty's room at once. I went very quietly 
and found some servant girls standing about and 
one Court lady, who was sitting on the floor. 
She had been on duty all night. When she saw 
me she got up and whispered to me, that now that 
I had come, she would go and change her clothes 
and brush up a bit, and for me not to leave the 
room until Her Majesty was awake. After this 

110 



THE EMPEROR KWANG HSU 111 

Court lady had gone, I went near to the bed and 
said: "Lao Tsu Tsung, it is half -past five." She 
was sleeping with her face toward the wall, and 
without looking to see who had called her, she 
said: "Go away and leave me alone. I did not 
tell you to call me at half -past five. Call me at 
six," and inxmediately went off to sleep again. 
I waited until six and called her again. She woke 
and said: "This is dreadful. What a nuisance 
you are." After she had said this, she looked 
around and saw me standing by the bed. "Oh! 
it is you, is it? Who told you to come and wake 
me?" I replied: "One of the Court ladies told 
me that it was my turn to be on duty in Lao Tsu 
Tsung's bedchamber." "That is funny. How 
dare they give orders without receiving instruc- 
tions from me first? They know that this part 
of their duty is not very pleasant and have put 
it off on you because they know you are new 
here." I made no reply to this. I got along as 
best I could that day and found it no easy mat- 
ter, as Her Majesty was very exacting in every- 
thing. However, the next time I managed to 
divert her attention to things new or interesting 
in order to take her mind off of what she was 
doing, and in this way had much less trouble 
getting her out of bed. 

My reader can't imagine how very glad we 
[were to get back to our rooms, and it was just 



112 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

10:30 P. M. I was very tired and sleepy, so I 
undressed and went to bed at once. I think that 
as soon as my head touched the pillow I was 
asleep. 

The following day there was the same thing, 
the usual audience in the morning, of course busy 
all the time, which went on for fifteen days 
before I realized it. I began to take great inter- 
est in the Court life, and liked it better every 
day. Her Majesty was very sweet and kind to 
us always, and took us to see the different places 
in the Summer Palace. We went to see Her 
Majesty's farm, situated on the west side of the 
lake, and had to cross over a high bridge to get 
there. This bridge is called Tu Tai Chiao 
(Jade Girdle Bridge). Her Majesty often 
took us under this bridge in a boat, or we walked 
round on the border. She seemed very fond of 
sitting on the top of this bridge on her stool and 
taking her tea, in fact this was one of her favor- 
ite places. She used to go and see her farm once 
every four or five days, and it always pleased 
her if she could take some vegetables and rice or 
corn from her own farm. She cooked these 
things herself in one of the courtyards. I 
thought that was good fun, and also turned up 
my sleeves to help her cook. We brought fresh 
eggs also from the farm and Her Majesty taught 
us how to cook them with black tea leaves. 




Her Imperial Majesty, Tsze She-Duan Yo-Kong Yee-Joan Yu- 

Ghwong Chung-Sho Goong-Chin Shen-TsungShe, Empress 

Dowager of China, in her full yellow dragon robe 

with sable hat 



THE EMPEROR KWANG HSU US 

Her Majesty's cooking stoves were very pecu- 
liar. They were made of brass, lined with 
bricks. They could be moved anywhere, for 
they had no chimneys. Her Majesty told me 
to boil the eggs first until they were hard, and 
to crack them but to keep the shells on, and add 
half a cup of black tea, salt and spices. Her 
Majesty said: "I hke the country life. It seems 
more natural than the Court life. I am always 
glad to see young people having fun, and not 
such grand dames when we are by ourselves. 
Although I am not young any more, I am still 
very fond of play." Her Majesty would taste 
first what we had been cooking, and would give 
us all to taste. She asked; "Do you not think 
this food has more flavor than that prepared by 
the cooks?" We all said it was fine. So we 
spent the long days at the Court having good 
fun. 

I saw Emperor Kwang Hsu every morning, 
and whenever I had the time he would always 
ask some words in English. I was surprised to 
learn that he knew quite a bit of spelling, too. I 
found him extremely interesting. He had very 
expressive eyes. He was entirely a different 
person when he was alone with us. He would 
laugh and tease, but as soon as he was in the pres- 
ence of Her Majesty he would look serious, and 
as if he were worried to death. At times he 



114 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

looked stupid. I was told by a great many peo- 
ple who were presented to him at the different 
audiences that he did not look intelligent, and 
that he would never talk. I knew better, for 
I used to see him every day. I was at the Court 
long enough to study him, and found him to be 
one of the most intelligent men in China. He 
was a capital diplomat and had wonderful brains, 
only he had no opportunities. Now a great 
many people have asked me the same question, 
if our Emperor Kwang Hsu had any courage 
or brains. Of course outsiders have no idea how 
strict the law is, and the way we have to respect 
our parents. He was compelled to give up a 
great many things on account of the law. I have 
had many long talks with him and found him a 
wise man, with any amount of patience. His life 
was not a happy one ; ever since liis childhood his 
health was poor. He told me that he never had 
studied literature very much, but it came natural 
to him. He was a born musician and could play 
any instrument without studying. He loved the 
piano, and was always after me to teach him. 
There were several beautiful grand pianos at the 
Audience Hall. He had very good taste for 
foreign music, too. I taught him some easy 
waltzes and he kept the time beautifully. I 
found him a good companion and a good friend, 
and he confided in me and told me his troubles 



THE EMPEROR KWANG HSU 115 

and sorrows. We talked a great deal about 
western civilization, and I was surprised to learn 
he was so well informed in everything. He used 
to tell me, time after time, his ambitions for the 
welfare of his country. He loved his people and 
would have done anything to help them when- 
ever there was famine or flood. I noticed that he 
felt for them. I know that some eunuchs gave 
false reports about his character, — that he was 
cruel, etc. I had heard the same thing before I 
went to the Palace. He was kind to the eunuchs, 
but there was always that distinction between the 
master and the servants. He would never allow 
the eunuchs to speak to him unless they were 
spoken to, and never listened to any kind of 
gossip. I lived there long enough, and I know 
just what kind of cruel people those eunuchs 
were. They had no respect for their master. 
They came from the lowest class of people from 
the country, had no education, no morals, no feel- 
ing for anything, not even between themselves. 
The outside world has heard so many things 
against His Majesty, the Emperor Kwang 
Hsu's character, but I assure my readers that 
these things were told by the eunuchs to their 
families, and of course they always stretched it 
out as far as possible in order to make the con- 
versation interesting. The majority of the peo- 
ple living in Peking get all kinds of information 



116 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

through them. I have witnessed the same thing 
many a time during my stay at the Palace. 

One day during the time of Her Majesty's 
afternoon rest we heard a dreadful noise. It 
sounded just like the firing off of fire-crackers. 
Such a noise was quite unusual in the Palace for 
such things are not allowed to be brought into 
the Palace grounds. Of course Her Majesty 
woke up. In a few seconds time everyone be- 
came excited and were running to and fro as if 
the building was on fire. Her Majesty was giv- 
ing orders and telling the eunuchs to be quiet, 
but no one listened to her and kept yelling and 
running around like crazy people, all talking at 
the same time. Her Majesty was furious and 
ordered us to bring the yellow bag to her. (I 
must explain about this bag. It was made of 
ordinary yellow cloth and contained bamboo 
sticks of all sorts and sizes and are made to beat 
the eunuchs, servant girls and old women serv- 
ants with.) This bag was carried everywhere 
Her Majesty went, to be handy in case of emer- 
gency. Everyone of us knew where this bag 
was kept. We took all the sticks from the bag 
and Her Majesty ordered us to go to the court- 
yard and beat the eunuchs. It was such a funny 
sight to see all the Court ladies and servant girls 
each with a stick trying to separate the excited 
crowd. On my part I thought I was having 



THE EMPEROR KWANG HSU 117 

good fun so I laughed and found the rest were 
laughing too. Her Majesty was standing on the 
veranda watching us but she was too far away 
to see well and with all that noise, we knew she 
could not hear us laughing. We tried our best 
to separate the crowd, but were laughing so much 
we did not have enough strength to hurt any of 
them. All of a sudden all the eunuchs became 
quiet and stopped talking, for one of them saw 
the head eunuch, Li Lien Ying, followed by all 
his attendants coming towards them. Everyone 
of them became frightened and stood there like 
statues. We stopped laughing, too, and turned 
back each with a stick in our hand, walking to- 
ward Her Majesty. Li Lien Ying was having 
a nap, too, and had heard the noise and had come 
to enquire what the trouble was and to report it 
to Her Majesty. It seemed one of the young 
eunuchs caught a crow. (The eunuchs hated 
crows, as they are considered an unlucky bird. 
The people in China called eunuchs crows be- 
cause they were very disagreeable. That was the 
reason why the eunuchs hated them so.) They 
always set traps to catch them and then tied a 
huge fire-cracker to their legs, set fire to the 
cracker and then set the unfortunate birds free. 
Naturally the poor birds would be glad to fly 
away and by the time the powder exploded 
would be high up in the air and the poor bird 



118 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

would be blown to pieces. It seemed this was 
not the first time the eunuchs had played this 
cruel trick. I was told it always delighted them 
so much to see blood and torture. They alwaj^s 
invited others to drink some wine with them to 
celebrate an occasion such as this. This cruel 
deed was always done outside of the wall of the 
Audience Hall but that day the crow flew to- 
wards Her Majesty's own Palace while she was 
sleeping and the powder exploded while the bird 
was passing the courtyard. After the head 
eunuch had told Her Majesty what had hap- 
pened, she was very angry and ordered that this 
young eunuch be brought in and receive punish- 
ment in her presence. I noticed one of the head 
eunuch's attendants push the culprit out from 
the crowd. The head eunuch immediately gave 
orders to lay this man on the ground and two 
eunuchs stood on each side of him and beat him 
on his legs with two heavy bamboo sticks one at 
a time. The victim never uttered a word while 
this was going on. The head eunuch counted 
until this man had received one hundred blows, 
then he gave orders to stop. Then he knelt in 
front of Her Majesty waiting for her orders and 
at the same time kowtowed on the ground until 
his head made a noise on the stone steps, asking 
to be punished for his carelessness and neglect of 
duty. Her Majesty said that it was not his 



THE EMPEROR KWANG HSU 119 

fault and ordered him to take the offender away. 
During all this time the offender was still on the 
ground, and did not dare to move. Two eunuchs 
each took hold of a foot and dragged him out of 
the courtyard. We were all afraid even to 
breathe aloud for fear Her Majesty would say 
that we were pretending to be frightened at vdi- 
nessing this punishment, at the same time when 
it was over we would go and gossip about how 
cruel she was. 'No one was surprised at what 
had happened, as we were accustomed to seeing 
it almost every day and were quite used to it. 
I used to pity them, but I changed my mind very 
soon after I had arrived. 

The first person I saw punished was a servant 
girl, she had made a mistake about Her Maj- 
esty's socks and had brought two which were not 
mates, Her Majesty finding that out, ordered 
another servant girl to slap her face ten times 
on each cheek. This girl did not slap hard 
enough, so Her Majesty said they were all good 
friends and would not obey her orders, so she 
told the one who had been slapped to slap the 
other. I thought that was too funny for any- 
thing and wanted to laugh the worst way, but of 
course did not dare. That night I asked those 
two girls how they felt slapping each other that 
way. The reason why I asked them was be- 
cause they were laughing and joking as usual 



120 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

immediately they were out of Her Majesty's 
bedchamber. They told me that was nothing; 
that they were quite used to it and never bothered 
themselves about such small things. I in turn 
soon became used to it, and was as callous as they 
were. 

Now regarding the servant girls, they are a 
much better class of people than the eunuchs. 
They are the daughters of Mancliu soldiers, and 
must stay ten years at the Palace to wait upon 
Her Majesty, and then they are free to marry. 
One got married after my first month at the 
Court. Her Majesty gave her a small sum of 
money, five hundred taels. This girl was so 
attached to Her Majesty that it was very hard 
for her to leave the Court. She was an ex- 
tremely clever girl. Her name was Chiu Yuen 
(Autumn's Cloud). Her Majesty named her 
that because she was so very delicate looking and 
slight. I liked her very much during the short 
time that we were together. She told me not to 
listen to anyone's gossip at the Court, also that 
Her Majesty had told her she was very fond 
of me. On the twenty-second day of the third 
moon she left the Palace, and we were all sorry 
to lose her. Her Majesty did not realize how 
much she missed her until after she had gone. 
For a few days we had nothing but troubles. It 
seemed as if everything went wrong. Her 



THE EMPEROR KWANG HSU 121 

Majesty was not at all satisfied without Cliiu 
Yuen. The rest of the servant girls were scared, 
and tried their best to please Her Majesty, but 
they had not the ability, so we had to help and 
do a part of their work so as not to make Her 
Majesty nervous. Unfortunately, she stopped 
us, and said: "You have enough to do of your 
own work, and I do not want you to help the 
servants. You don't please me a bit that way." 
She could see that I was not accustomed to her 
ways, for she had spoken severely, so she smiled 
and said to me: "I know you are good to help 
them so as not to make me angry, but these 
servants are very cunning. It isn't that they 
cannot do their work. They know very well 
that I always select the clever ones to wait on 
me in my bedroom and they don't like that, so 
they pretend to be stupid and make me angry so 
that I will send them to do the common work. 
The eunuchs are worse. They are all afraid to 
take Chiu Yuen's place. Now I have found 
them out, and I will only keep the stupid ones 
to wait on me from now." I almost laughed 
when I noticed that they all looked serious for 
a moment. I thought these people must be really 
stupid, and not lazy, but I had dealings with 
them every day and found them out all right. 
The eunuchs don't seem to have any brains at 
alh They are such queer people and have no 



122 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

feelings. They have the same mood all day 
long — I should say they are in a cruel mood. 
Whenever Her Majesty gave an order they 
always said "Jer" (Yes) and as soon as they 
got to our waitingroom they would say to each 
other: "What was the order? I have forgotten 
all about it." Then they used to come to one of 
us who had happened to be present when 
the order was given: "Please tell us what the 
order was. I did not listen while Her Majesty 
was talking." We used to laugh and make fun 
of them. We knew they were afraid to ask Her 
Majesty, and of course we had to tell them. 
One of the eunuch writers had to keep writing 
down the orders that had been given during the 
day, for Her Majesty wanted to keep records 
of everything. There were twenty eunuchs who 
were educated and they were excellent scholars. 
These had to answer any questions which Her 
Majesty happened to ask them about Chinese 
literature, while she had a good knowledge of 
it herself. I noticed that it pleased her a great 
deal if anyone could not answer a question, or 
knew less than she did. She took delight in 
laughing at them. Her Majesty was also very 
fond of teasing. She knew that the Court ladies 
did not know very much about literature, so she 
used to try it on us. We had to say something 
whether it was appropriate to her questions or 



THE EMPEROR KWANG HSU 123 

not, and that would make her laugh. I was told 
that Her Majesty did not like anyone to be too 
clever, and yet she could not bear stupid people, 
so I was rather nervous, and did not know how 
to act for the first three weeks I was there, but 
it did not take me very long to study her. She 
certainly admired clever girls, but she did not 
like those who would show their cleverness too 
much. How I won her heart was this way. 
Whenever I was with her I used to fix my whole 
attention on her and watched her very closely 
(not staring, for she hated that) and always car- 
ried out her orders properly. I noticed another 
thing, and that was that whenever she wanted 
anything to be brought to her, such as ciga- 
rettes, handkerchief, etc., she would only look at 
the article and then look at anyone who hap- 
pened to be there at the time. (There was al- 
ways a table in the room, on which everything 
she needed for the day was placed.) I got so 
used to her habits that after a short time I knew 
just what she wanted by looking at her eyes, and 
I was very seldom mistaken. This pleased her 
a great deal. She was strong-minded, and 
would always act the way she thought was right, 
and had perfect confidence in herself. At times 
I have seen her looking very sad. She had 
strong emotions, but her will was stronger. She 
could control herself beautifully, and yet she liked 



124 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

people to sympathize with her — only by actions, 
not by words, for she did not like anyone to 
know her thoughts. I am sm-e my readers will 
think how hard it was to be the Court lady of 
Her Majesty, the Empress Dowager of China, 
but on the contrary I enjoyed myself very much, 
as she was so interesting, and I found that she 
was not at all difficult to please. 

The first day of the fourth moon Her Majesty 
was worried over the lack of rain. She prayed 
every day after the audience for ten days, with- 
out any result. Every one of us kept very quiet. 
Her Majesty did not even give any orders that 
day, and spoke to no one. I noticed that the 
eunuchs were scared, so we went without our 
luncheon. I worked so hard that morning, and 
was so hungry — in fact all the Court ladies were. 
I felt sorry for Her Majesty. Finally she told 
me I could go, as she wanted to rest a while, so 
we came back to our own quarters. I questioned 
our own eunuch Wang as to why Her Majesty 
was worrying about rain, for we were having 
lovely weather then, day after day. He told me 
that Lao Fo Yeh (Old Buddha) was worried 
for the poor farmers, as all their crops were dead 
without rain for so long. Wang also reminded 
me that it had not rained once since I came to 
live at the Palace. I did not realize that it was 
so long as two months and seven days, and 



THE EMPEROR KWANG HSU 125 

on the other hand it seemed to me longer than 
that, for the hfe was very nice and pleasant, and 
Her Majesty was very kind to me, as if she had 
known me for years already. Her Majesty took 
very little food at dinner that night. There was 
not a sound anywhere, and everyone kept quiet. 
The Young Empress told us to eat as fast as 
we could, which puzzled me. When we came 
back to our waitingroom, the Young Empress 
said to me that Her Majesty was very much 
worried for the poor farmers and that she would 
pray for rain, and stop eating meat for two or 
three days. That same night, before Her 
Majesty retired, she gave orders that no pigs were 
to be slaughtered within the gates of Peking. 
The reason of this was that by sacrificing our- 
selves by not eating meat the Gods would have 
pity on us and send rain. She also gave orders 
that everyone should bathe the body and wash 
out the mouth in order that we might be cleansed 
from all impurities and be ready to fast and pray 
to the Gods. Also that the Emperor should go 
to the temple inside the Forbidden City, to per- 
form a ceremony of sacrifice (called Chin Tan). 
He was not to eat meat or hold converse with 
anyone, and to pray to the Gods to be merciful 
and send rain to the poor farmers. His Majesty, 
the Emperor Kwang Hsu, wore a piece of jade 
tablet about three inches square, engraved "Chai 



126 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

Chieh" (the meaning being just like Chin Tan — 
not to eat meat but to pray three times a day), 
both in Manchu and Chinese, and all the eunuchs 
who went with the Emperor wore the same kind 
of tablets. The idea was that this jade tablet 
was to remind one to be serious in performing 
the ceremonies. 

The next morning Her Majesty got up very 
early and ordered me not to bring any jewels 
for her. She dressed herself in great haste. Her 
breakfast was very simple that day, just milk and 
steamed bread. Our own breakfast was cabbage 
and rice cooked together, with a little salt. It 
was tasteless. Her Majesty did not talk to us 
at all, except when giving orders, and so, of 
course, we kept silent. Her Majesty wore a 
pale gray gown, made very plain, with no em- 
broidery or trimmings of any kind. She wore 
gray shoes to match, not to mention her gray 
handkerchief. We followed her into the hall 
where a eunuch knelt with a large branch of 
willow tree. Her Majesty picked a little bunch 
of leaves and stuck it on her head. The Young 
Empress did the same, and told us to fol- 
low her example. Emperor Kwang Hsu took 
a branch and stuck it on his hat. After that 
Her Majesty ordered the eunuchs and the serv- 
ant girls to do the same thing. It was a funny 
sight, and everyone did look queer with a 



THE EMPEROR KWANG HSU 127 

bunch of leaves on the head. The head eunuch 
came and knelt in front of Her Majesty and 
said that everything was prepared for the 
ceremony in the little pavilion in front of her 
own palace. She told us that she preferred to 
walk, as she was going to pray. It took us only 
a few minutes to cross the courtyard. When we 
arrived at this pavilion I noticed a large square 
table was placed in the center of the room. A 
few large sheets of yellow paper and a jade 
slab, containing some vermilion powder instead 
of ink, with two little brushes to write with. At 
each side of the table stood a pair of large porce- 
lain vases, with two large branches of willow. 
Of course no one was allowed to speak, but I 
was curious and wanted to find out why every- 
one had to wear the willow leaves on the head. 
Her Majesty's yellow satin cushion was placed 
in front of this table. She stood there and took 
a piece of sandalwood and placed it in the incense 
burner filled with live charcoal. The Young 
Empress whispered to me to go over and help 
Her Majesty to burn them. I placed several 
pieces in until she told me that was enough. 
Then Her Majesty knelt on her cushion, the 
Young Empress knelt behind her, and we all 
knelt in a row behind the Young Empress, 
and commenced to pray. The Young Empress 
taught us that very morning how to say the 



128 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

prayer: "We worship the Heavens, and beg 
all the Buddhas to take pity on us and save the 
poor farmers from starving. We are willing to 
sacrifice for them. Pray Heaven send us rain." 
We repeated the same prayer three times, and 
bowed three times — ^nine times in all. After that 
Her Majesty went to her usual morning audi- 
ence. It was much earlier than usual that morn- 
ing for the Court was returning to the Forbidden 
City at noon. His Majesty, the Emperor 
Kwang Hsu, was to pray at the Forbidden City 
and Her Majesty always wanted to accompany 
him wherever he went. It was nine o'clock in 
the morning when the audience was over. She 
ordered me not to bring any jewels for her to 
the Forbidden City this time, for she would not 
need them at all. I went to the jewel-room and 
locked everything up, and placed the keys in a 
yellow envelope, sealed it, and placed the 
envelope among the others, and gave them 
to a eunuch who takes care of these things. We 
packed all her favorite things. Her gowns 
were the most important things to pack, she had 
so many and it was impossible to take aU. I 
noticed that the Court lady who was looking after 
her gowns was the busiest amongst us. She had 
to select gowns enough to last four or five days. 
She told me that she had selected about fifty dif- 
ferent ones. I told her that Lao Tsu Tsung 



THE EMPEROR KWANG HSU 129 

might stay at the Forbidden City four or five 
days, and that she would not need so many gowns. 
She said it was safer to bring many, for one was 
not sure what would be Her Majesty's idea for 
the day. Packing at the Court was very simple. 
Eunuchs brought many yellow trays, which are 
made of wood, painted yellow, about five feet by 
four feet and one foot deep. We placed a large 
yellow silk scarf in the tray, then the gowns, 
and covered them with a thick yellow cloth. Ev- 
erything was packed the same way. It took us 
about two hours to pack fifty-six trays. These 
things always started off first, carried by the 
eunuchs. His Majesty, the Emperor Kwang 
Hsu, the Young Empress and all the Court la- 
dies, had to kneel on the ground for Her Maj- 
esty's sedan chair to pass the Palace Gate, then 
we went in search of our own chairs. The pro- 
cession as usual was pretty, soldiers marching in 
front of her chair, four young Princes riding on 
horseback on each side of her, and from forty to 
fifty eunuchs also on horseback behind her, 
all dressed in their oflicial robes. The Em- 
peror's chair and the Young Empress' chair were 
of the same color as Her Majesty's. The Sec- 
ondary wife of the Emperor had a deep yellow 
chair. The chairs of the Court ladies were red, 
and were carried by four chair bearers, instead 
of eight hke their Majesties. Our own eunuchs 



130 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

also rode on horseback, behind us. We rode a 
long time, it seemed to me, before I noticed the 
Emperor's chair begin to descend from the stone- 
paved road, and we all followed him. I could 
see that Her Majesty's chair was still going 
straight on, and we took a nearer route to reach 
Wan Shou Si (The long life temple), to await 
Her Majesty's arrival. We alighted from our 
chairs and started at once to prepare Her 
Majesty's tea and her little dishes. I went to 
help her to alight, and supported her right arm 
to mount the steps. Her Majesty sat on Her 
Throne, and we placed a table in front of hei* 
and my sister brought her tea. (The custom 
was, that if she went anywhere, or during the 
festivals, we must bring to her everything, instead 
of the eunuchs.) We placed all the dainties in 
front of her, and then we went to rest. Her 
Majesty always stopped at this temple on the 
way from the Summer Palace to the Forbidden 
City. 



CHAPTER TEN! 

THE YOUNG EMPRESS 

I THOUGHT of SO many things while I was rid- 
ing in my chair. It was a glorious day, I felt 
sorry for Her Majesty, for she was very quiet 
that day. Generally she was happy, and made 
everyone laugh with her. I thought about the 
branches of willow, too, but could not understand 
the meaning. I came out of the hall while Her 
Maj esty was dining with the Emperor, and found 
the Young Empress sitting in a small room 
on the left side of the courtyard, with several 
Court ladies. When they saw me they made 
signs for me to go there. I found them all drink- 
ing tea, and the Young Empress said to me, 
"I am sure you must be tired and hungry. Come 
and sit near me and have a cup of tea." 
I thanked her and sat down beside her and we 
talked of what we saw on the roads and how we 
had enjoyed our long ride. She said: "We have 
still an hour's ride before we reach the Forbid- 
den City." She also talked about the ceremony 
we had performed that morning and said that 
we must all pray earnestly for rain. I could 

131 



132 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

not wait any longer, so I asked her what those 
branches of willow meant. She smiled and told 
me that willow could bring water, as the Buddhist 
religion believes, and that it was an old custom 
of the Court wearing willow leaves, when pray- 
ing for rain. She also told me that we must per- 
form the same ceremony every morning until the 
rain came. 

We heard Her Majesty talking in the court- 
yard, and knew that she had finished her 
luncheon, so we went in with the Young Em- 
press, and ate what was left, as usual. I found 
the food very nice indeed, although it seemed 
rather funny without having meat. We came 
out into the courtyard and saw that Her Majesty 
was walking up and down. She said to us: 
*'My legs are so stiff, riding in the chair. I must 
walk a little before we leave here. Are you all 
tired?" We told her that we were not tired, so 
she ordered us to walk with her. It looked very 
funny to see us walking round and round. Her 
Majesty in front, and we following her. Her 
Majesty turned and smiled at us, and said: 
"We are just like horses taking their rounds at 
a stable." It reminded me of a circus. Li Lien 
Ying came and knelt down, and said that it 
was time for Her Majesty to depart, in order 
to reach the Forbidden City at the lucky hour 
she had selected, so we left Wan Shou Si. All 



THE YOUNG EMPRESS 133 

the chairs went very fast, and after an hour's ride 
we came near the Palace Gate. We followed 
the Emperor's chair, taking a shorter route, and 
noticed the gate was wide open. His Majesty, 
the Emperor, and the Young Empress' chairs 
went in, but we had to alight and walk in. 
There were small chairs waiting for us. (As I 
explained before these little chairs were car- 
ried by eunuchs, with a rope across their shoul- 
ders.) We came to the courtyard of the 
Audience Hall where the Emperor and the Em- 
press were waiting for us. As usual His 
Majesty knelt in front. Behind him was the 
Young Empress, and we knelt in a row behind 
her, waiting to welcome Her Majesty to her 
Palace. She went to her room where the eunuchs 
had placed everything in order long before her 
arrival. We held the ceremony that afternoon 
and evening. After Her Majesty had retired 
we came back to our rooms and found that every- 
thing was in order, our eunuchs had made up our 
beds already. It was very nice to have them, for 
we could not do our own work at all. I was 
so tired and my limbs were stiff. I immediately 
went to sleep and did not realize how long I had 
slept until I heard someone knocking at my win- 
dow. I got up and pulled the blind away. I 
noticed that the sky looked dull and thought it 
was clouded. I felt happy, and thought it might 



134> TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

rain, and so relieve Her Majesty. I got dressed 
in great haste, but much to my disappointment 
I saw the sunshine on the opposite windows. 

The Palace in the Forbidden City was so old, 
and built in such a queer way. The courtyards 
were small, and the verandas very broad. All 
the rooms were dark. No electric light. We 
had to use candle light. One could not see the 
sky except by going into the courtyard and look- 
ing up. I found that I had risen before the sun 
was up, and I was not quite awake yet, and 
thought the sky was clouded. I went to Her 
Majesty's own Palace and found the Young Em- 
press already there. She was always the first 
and always looked so tidy I often wondered how 
early she had to get up. She told me that I was 
not late, although Her Majesty was awake but 
not up yet. I went into her bedroom and made 
my usual morning courtesy to her. The first 
thing she asked me was about the weather. I 
had to tell her the truth — that there was no sign 
of rain. Her Majesty got up, dressed, and had 
her breakfast as usual, and told us there would 
be no audience that morning. The Emperor 
went to the Temple, sacrificing, and there was 
nothing important to attend to. We prayed for 
three days in succession, but no rain came. I 
found that Her Majesty was truly discouraged, 
and ordered each of us to pray twenty times a 



THE YOUNG EMPRESS 135 

day. We marked a spot with vermilion powder 
and a little water on big yellow sheets of paper 
each time we prayed. 

On the sixth day of the fourth moon the sky 
was clouded. I ran to Her Majesty's bedroom 
that morning to tell her the news, but found that 
someone had told her already. She smiled, and 
said to me : "You are not the first one to give me 
the good news. I know everyone of you wanted 
to be the first to tell me. I feel very tired to- 
day, and wish to He down a little longer. You 
can go, and I will send for you when I am 
ready to get up." When I went to search for 
the Young Empress I found all the Court ladies 
there also. They all asked me if I had noticed 
the rain. We came out of the waitingroom and 
found that the courtyard was wet, and after a 
while it rained very fast. Her Majesty got up, 
and we prayed as usual. Fortunately the rain 
did not stop, but came pouring down all that day. 

Her Majesty played solitaire with the dom- 
inoes, and I stood at the back of her chair watch- 
ing her. I saw that the Young Empress and 
all the girls were standing on the veranda. Her 
Majesty saw them, too, and said to me: "Go 
and tell them to wait in the waitingroom. Can't 
they see that the veranda is wet?" I went to 
them, but before I had the opportunity of telling 
them anything the Young Empress told me that 



136 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

the waitingroom was wet, and that the water had 
gone in. As I said before, this building was 
very old, and there were no drains at all. Her 
Majesty's own Palace was high; it had twelve 
steps, while our waitingroom, which was on the 
left side of her Palace, was built right on the 
ground, with no raised foundation at all. While 
I was talking on the veranda just for a few min- 
utes, I got quite wet. Her Majesty knocked at 
her glass window and told us to go in. Now I 
must explain that none of us, not even the Young 
Empress could enter Her Majesty's Palace 
without her orders except we had work to do 
there, or were on duty. Her Majesty was very 
happy that day. She laughed and said that we 
looked as if we had just been pulled out of the 
lake. The Young Empress had on a pale blue 
gown, and the red tassel on her headdress was 
dripping red water all over her gown. She 
smiled and said to us: "Look at those girls; their 
gowns are all spoiled." While we were talking. 
Her Majesty gave us orders for us to change our 
clothes. 

After they had gone, I went back to Her 
Majesty. She looked at me and said: "You are 
wet also, only your clothes do not show." I had 
on a cashmere dress which was made very plain. 
She touched my arm and said: "How wet you 
are. You had better change, and put on a thick 



THE YOUNG EMPRESS 137 

dress. I think foreign clothes must be verjr un- 
comfortable ; the waist is too small and it seems 
to me out of proportion to the rest of the body. 
I am sure that you will look much prettier in our 
Manchu gown. I want you to change and put 
your Parisian clothes away as souvenirs. I only 
wanted to know how foreign ladies dressed and 
now I have seen enough. The Dragon Boat 
Festival will be here next month and I will make 
some pretty gowns for you." I thanked her by 
kowtowing to the ground and told her that I 
would be only too pleased to change into Manchu 
clothes, but having lived so many years abroad, 
and having always worn foreign clothes, I had 
not had any made. We were planning to 
change into Manchu gowns before coming to 
the Court, but we had received orders that Lao 
Tsu Tsung wished to see us in foreign clothes. 
I was very glad when I received that order as 
there were several reasons why I wanted to wear 
Manchu gowns. First, the Court ladies at the 
beginning treated us as outsiders. Secondly, I 
knew that Her Majesty did not like them, and 
besides, we were very uncomfortable living at 
the Palace in Peking, and made up our minds 
that we must wear Manchu clothes, which were 
made for it. We had so much work to do, and 
having to stand most of the time one absolutely 
needed loose garments. Her Majesty ordered 



138 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

one of the eunuchs to bring one of her dresses for 
me to try on, so I went back to my own room, 
and took off my wet clothes and changed. I 
tried on her gown, but it was too loose for me. 
The length was quite all right and so were the 
sleeves. Her Majesty told one of the eunuch 
writers to write down my measurements in order 
to have a gown made for me, and said she was 
sure it would fit me. She did the same 
thing for my mother and sister, and ordered our 
gowns to be made at once. I knew she was 
pleased, as she told me what color would suit 
me the best. She said that I should always 
wear pink and pale blue, for they suited, and 
were her favorite colors, too. She also talked 
about our headdress, and ordered some made 
the same as worn by the other Court ladies. She 
said to me: "I know you can wear my shoes, for 
I tried yours on the first day you came, don't you 
remember? I must select a lucky day for you to 
become a Manchu once more," she said this with a 
smile, "and no more foreign clothes after that." 
She took her special book for lucky days and 
hours, and studied it a little while, then she said 
the eighteenth of that month was the best. Li 
Lien Ying, the head eunuch knew how to please 
Her Majesty, and said he would give orders to 
have everything ready for us at that time. Her 
Majesty told us the way we must have our hair 



THE YOUNG EMPRESS 139 

dressed, and what kind of flowers we should wear, 
in fact she was very happy arranging to make 
us into Manchus. A short while after she dis- 
missed us for the day. It rained for three days 
without stopping. The last day the Emperor 
came back, and all ceremonies ceased. Her 
Majesty never liked to stay in the Forbidden 
City, and I was not a bit surprised, as I hated 
the place. We had to use candles to dress by, 
in the morning, as the rooms were in absolute 
darkness even in the middle of the afternoon. 
It rained so much that finally Her Majesty said 
she would return to the Summer Palace the next 
day, whether it was raining or not, and we were 
all very glad to go. 

We returned to the Summer Palace on the 
seventh. It was a dull day, but no rain. We 
packed everything in just the same way we had 
done when we came, and stopped at Wan Shou 
Si and had our luncheon. That day we com- 
menced to eat meat again. I noticed that Her 
Majesty enjoyed her meal very much. She 
asked me if I liked the food without meat, and I 
told her that everything was nicely done and that 
I enjoyed the food very much, although without 
meat. She told me that she could not eat that 
kind of food and enjoy it, and that if it were not 
necessary to make sacrifice she would not have 
abstained. 



140 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

The first garden party of the year was given 
by the Empress Dowager to the ladies of the 
Diplomatic Corps, in the fourth moon. This 
year Her Majesty desired to deviate a little from 
previous custom, and issued orders that stalls 
should be arranged in the garden, on a similar 
principal to a bazaar, on which were to be dis- 
played curios, embroidered work, flowers, etc., 
etc. These were to be given as presents to the 
guests. The guests were: Mrs. Conger, wife 
of the American Minister, Mrs. Williams, wife 
of Chinese Secretary of the American Legation, . 
Madame and Mademoiselle de Career, wife and 
daughter of the Spanish Minister, Madame 
Uchida, wife of the Japanese Minister, and a few 
ladies of the Japanese Legation, Madame Almei- 
da, wife of the Portuguese Charge d' Affaires, 
Madame Cannes, wife of the Secretary of the 
French Legation, the wives of several French 
Officers, Lady Susan Townley, wife of the First 
Secretary of the British Legation, two ladies 
from the German Legation, wives of German Of- 
ficers, and wives of a few Customs Officials. On 
this occasion Her Majesty selected a most beau- 
tiful gown of peacock blue, embroidered all over 
with phcenix. The embroidery was raised and 
each phoenix had a string of pearls two inches 
long sewed into its mouth. Whenever Her Maj- 
esty stirred, these strings of tiny pearls moved 



iTHE YOUNG EMPRESS 141 

forwards and backwards and it made a very 
pretty effect. Of course, she wore her jade phoe- 
nix on her hair as usual and shoes and handker- 
chief embroidered with the same pattern. My 
mother wore a lavender silk gown, trimmed with 
silver braid, her hat was of the same shade with 
plumes to match. My sister and myself wore 
pale blue Chinese silk gowns with insertion and 
medalHons of Irish crochet and trimmed with 
tiny velvet bands. We wore blue hats with large 
pink roses. All the Court ladies dressed in their 
most picturesque gowns and it was a very pretty 
sight to see the procession walking to the Audi- 
ence Hall. 

Her Majesty was in her happiest mood that 
morning and said to us: "I wonder how I would 
look in foreign clothes; my waist is very small, 
but wearing this kind of loose gown it would not 
show. I don't think I would need to squeeze 
myself so tight, either, but I don't think there 
is anything in the world prettier than our Man- 
chu gowns." 

First the guests were received in audience by 
Their Majesties. They were accompanied by 
the Doyen, Baron Czikann, Minister for Aus- 
tria, and an interpreter from each Legation. On 
entering the Audience Hall all the guests stood 
in line and the Doyen presented a short address 
to Their Majesties. This was translated to 



142 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

Prince Ching, who, in turn, communicated it to 
the Emperor. The Emperor made a suitable 
reply in Chinese which was translated by the 
Doyen's interpreter. Then the Doyen mounted 
the steps of the dais and shook hands with Their 
Majesties, the rest of the guests being presented 
in turn. I was standing at the right hand of the 
Empress Dowager and as each guest came for- 
ward, called out their names, and the Legation 
which they represented. Her Maj esty had a few 
words for eveiyone, and when she saw a new 
face she would ask how long they had been in 
China ; whether they liked it, etc., etc. All these 
conversations I interpreted for Her Majesty. 
As the guests finished paying their respects they 
passed along and remained standing in the Hall 
until everybody had been presented. 

The interpreters, who did not take part in this 
ceremony but had remained standing in the Hall 
until it was over, were then conducted by Prince 
Ching to another part of the Palace, where re- 
freshments were provided for them. After they 
had gone out Their Majesties descended from 
the dais and mixed with the guests. 

The formal ceremony now being concluded, 
chairs were brought in and everybody made them- 
selves comfortable. Tea was brought in by the 
eunuchs and after a few minutes' conversation, 
we all adjourned to the refreshment room, with 



THE YOUNG EMPRESS 148 

the exception of the Empress Dowager, the Em- 
peror, the Young Empress and the Secondary 
wife. In the absence of Her Majesty, the Im- 
perial Princess (The Empress Dowager's 
adopted daughter) officiated as hostess, Mrs. 
Conger sitting at her right and Madame de Car- 
eer, wife of the Spanish Minister, on her left. 
The food was all Chinese, but knives and forks 
were provided for the use of the guests. During 
the luncheon the Imperial Princess stood up and 
spoke a few words of welcome, which I translated 
into English and French. After the luncheon 
was over we adjourned to the garden where 
Their Majesties were awaiting us. A brass 
band was playing European airs. 

Her Majesty led the way around the gardens, 
passing the various stalls on the way, where the 
ladies would stop and admire the different arti- 
cles, which were later presented to them as souve- 
nirs of the occasion. On arriving at a teahouse 
which had been erected in the gardens, everybody 
rested and partook of tea. Their Majesties then 
wished everybody good-bye and the guests were 
then conducted to their chairs and took their de- 
parture. 

As usual, we reported to Her Majesty every- 
thing that had taken place and how the guests 
had enjoyed themselves. She said: "How is it 
that these foreign ladies have such large feet? 



144 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

Their shoes are like boats and the funny way they 
walk I cannot say I admire. I haven't yet seen 
one foreigner with pretty hands. Although they 
have white skins, their faces are covered with 
white hair. Do you think they are beautiful?" I 
replied that I had seen some American beauties 
when I was abroad. Her Majesty said: "No 
matter how beautiful they are they have ugly 
eyes. I can't bear that blue color, they remind 
me of a cat." After a few more remarks, she 
ordered us to retire, saying that we must be 
tired. We were rather used up and glad of an 
opportunity to rest, so made our courtesies and 
retired. 

We had been at the Palace more than two 
months, and I had had no opportunity to see my 
father at all, who was quite ill at that time. We 
did not know whether we could ask leave of ab- 
sence from the Court. I received letters from my 
father every day, telling me to have courage, and 
to do my duty. My mother asked the Young 
Empress if it would be correct to ask Her Maj- 
esty for permission to go home for a day or two. 
The Young Empress told us that it would be 
quite all right to do that, but she thought it would 
be better if we could wait until after the eighth, 
for there would be a feast on that day. The 
eighth day of the fourth moon every year is the 
ceremony of eating green peas. According to 



THE YOUNG EMPRESS 145 

the Buddhist religion there is a hereafter which 
divides or grades, according to the Ufe that is 
Hved on earth, that is to say, those who live good 
lives go to Heaven when they die and those who 
are bad go to a bad place to suffer. On this 
occasion Her Majesty sent to the people she 
liked, each a plate containing eight peas, and we 
had to eat them. The Young Empress told me 
that if I presented a plate of peas to Her Maj- 
esty it would please her, which I did. This 
meant: "May we meet in the hereafter" (Chi 
Yuen Dou) . Her Majesty was very happy that 
day. We went to the west side of the lake and 
had our luncheon there. Her Majesty talked to 
us about the first day we came to the Court, and 
then said to mother: "I wonder if Yii Keng is 
any better. When will he be able to come to 
the Court? I haven't seen him since he returned 
from France." (My father had asked three 
months leave of absence from the Court on ac- 
count of his poor health.) My mother answered 
and said that he was feehng better, but that his 
legs were still very weak, and he could not walk 
much. Her Majesty then said to us: "Oh, I 
have forgotten to tell you that if you wish to go 
home, you can ask permission. I have been so 
busy lately, and forgot to remind you." We 
thanked her and told her that we would hke to go 
home and see how my father was, so she gave 



146 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

orders that we should leave the Court the next 
day. Then she asked me how long I would like 
to stay at home, and of course I knew the cus- 
tom, and told her that I was waiting for her 
orders: "Would two or three days be enough?" 
We told her that it suited us beautifully. I 
was so surprised when she mentioned it to us, 
and wondered if anyone had told her of our 
intentions, or if Her Majesty was a mind 
reader. 

When she retired that afternoon I went to 
see the Young Empress, who was always very 
nice and kind, and asked me to sit near her. 
Her eunuch brought me a cup of tea. Her 
rooms were furnished exactly the same as Her 
Majesty's, but everything looked extremely 
dainty, and showed very good taste. We 
talked about the life at the Palace for a long 
time, and she told me that she was very fond of 
us, and so was Her Majesty. I told her that 
Her Majesty had mentioned to us about going 
home for two or three days and that I was sur- 
prised to see how thoughtful she was. She said 
that someone had reminded Her Majesty to let 
us go home, for we had been at the Court for 
more than two months. I found out afterwards 
that it was the head eunuch Li who had heard 
that we were anxious to go. The Young Em- 
press said to me: "I want to teach you to be 



THE YOUNG EMPRESS 147 

wise, that is, you are ordered to leave the Court 
to-morrow, but Her Majesty did not mention 
any particular hour. You must not talk about 
it to anyone, and don't show that you are ex- 
cited to go home. Don't dress as if you are 
going out to-morrow, but be natural and do 
your work as if you don't care about going at 
all. Don't you remind her, in case she forgets 
to tell you to go, and come back on the sec- 
ond day, which is the custom. It will show that 
you are anxious to see Her Majesty, so you 
come back one day earlier than the appointed 
time." I was so happy to get this information 
and asked her if it would be all right to bring 
Her Majesty some presents when we returned 
to the Court. She said that was just the proper 
thing to do. The next day we did the same 
work, and went to the Audience Hall with Her 
Majesty, as usual. After the audience was 
over Her Majesty ordered her luncheon to be 
served at the country teahouse. This teahouse 
was built in country style, and right on top of 
her peony mountain, with bamboo and straw, 
and all the furniture was made of bamboo also. 
They were beautifully made, and the frames of 
the windows were carved into a line of characters 
— Shou (long life), and butterflies, with pink 
silk curtain hangings. At the rear of this ex- 
quisite little building was a bamboo shade, with 



148 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

railings all around, hung with red silk lanterns. 
The seats were built against the railings, so that 
one could sit on them comfortably. This was 
supposed to be used by the Court ladies as their 
waitingroom. We played dice with Her Maj- 
esty when luncheon was over. We played a 
very long time, and I won the game that day. 
Her Majesty laughed and said to me: "You have 
luck to-day. I think you are so happy to go 
home that your fairies have helped you to win the 
game." As I mentioned before, this game was 
called "Eight Fairies Going across the Sea." "I 
think it is time for you to go now." While say- 
ing this she turned and asked one of the eunuchs 
what the time was, and he answered that it was 
half -past two. We kowtowed to Her Majesty, 
and stood waiting for more orders. Then she 
said: "I am sorry to see you go although I know 
you are coming back within two or three days. 
I know I shall miss you." To my mother she 
said: "Tell Yii Keng to take care of his health 
and get well soon. I have ordered four eunuchs 
to accompany you, and am sending some of my 
own rice for him." We had to kowtow again in 
thanking Her Majesty for her kindness and 
finally she said: "Nemen tzowba" (you can go 
now). 

We withdrew, and found the Young Empress 
on the veranda. We courtesied to her, and said 



THE YOUNG EMPRESS 149 

good-bye to the Court ladies and came to our 
rooms to get ready to start. Our eunuchs were 
very good, and had everything packed up ready 
for us. We gave ten taels to each of our eu- 
nuchs, for that was the custom, and gave four 
taels to each chair bearer of the Palace. When 
we arrived at the Palace Gate our own chairs 
were waiting for us. We said good-bye to our 
eunuchs. Strange to say they seemed attached 
to us and told us to come back soon. The four 
eunuchs ordered by Her Majesty to see us home 
were there, and as soon as we got into our chairs 
I saw them riding on horseback beside us. It 
seemed to me just like a dream the two months 
I had spent at the Court, and I must say I felt 
very sorry to leave Her Majesty, but at the same 
time I wanted very much to see my father. We 
got home after a two hours' ride, and found him 
looking much better, and one can imagine how 
happy he was to see us. The four eunuchs came 
into our parlor, and placed the yellow bag of 
rice on the table. My father thanked Her Maj- 
esty by kowtowing to the ground. We gave 
these eunuchs each a little present, and they de- 
parted. 

I told my father about my life at the Palace, 
and how very kind Her Majesty was to me. He 
asked me if I could influence Her Majesty to 
reform some day, and hoped he would Hve to see 



150 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

it. Somehow or other I had the idea that I could 
and promised him that I would try my best. 

Her Majesty sent two eunuchs to see us the 
next morning, and also sent us food and fruits. 
They told us that Her Majesty missed us, and 
had told them to ask if we missed her. We told 
these eunuchs that we were returning to the Court 
the next day. We stayed at home only two days 
and a great many people came to see us, and 
kept us busy all the time. My father suggested 
that we should start from the house at about 
3 :00 A. M., so as to get to the Summer Palace 
before Her Majesty was up. We left our house 
at 3:00 a. m. in total darkness, just like we had 
two months before. What a change. I thought 
I was the happiest girl in the world. I was told 
by many people, especially by the Young Em- 
press, that Her Majesty was extremely fond of 
me. I had also heard that she did not care for 
young people at all. Although I was happy, I 
noticed that some of the Court ladies did not 
like me, and they made me uncomfortable on 
many occasions by not telling me just the way 
Her Majesty wanted the work to be done. They 
smiled to each other whenever Her Majesty was 
saying to my mother that she liked me, and that 
I was always careful in doing anything that 
pleased her. I knew I was going to see those 
people again. However, I made up my mind 



THE YOUNG EMPRESS 151 

to fight my battles alone. I only wished to be 
useful to Her Majesty, and would not take any 
notice of them. 

It was a little after five o'clock when we 
reached the Summer Palace. Our own eunuchs 
were very happy to see us again and told us that 
Her Majesty was not up yet and that we had 
time to go to our rooms, where they had some 
breakfast prepared for us. We went to see the 
Young Empress first, and found she was ready 
to go to Her Majesty's Palace. She was also 
very glad to see us, and told us that our Manchu 
costumes were all ready, and that she had seen 
them and they were perfectly lovely. We were 
very hungry, and enjoyed our breakfast im- 
mensely. After that we went to see Her Maj- 
esty. She was awake, so we went into her bed- 
room. We greeted her the same way that we did 
every morning, and kowtowed to her and thanked 
her for all the things she had sent us while we 
were at home. She sat up on the bed, smiled, 
and said: "Are you glad to come back? I know 
everyone who comes to me and stays for a while 
does not like to go away from here any more. I 
am glad to see you (to my mother) . How is Yii 
Keng?" My mother told her that my father 
was much better. She asked us what we did for 
those two days, staying at home. She also 
wanted to know whether we still remembered 



152 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

which day she had chosen for us to change into 
our Manchu costume. We told her we knew the 
date, and were looking forward to it. The 
eunuchs brought in three large yellow trays, full 
of beautiful gowns, shoes, white silk socks, hand- 
kerchiefs, bags for nuts, in fact the whole set, 
including the gu'un dzan (Manchu headdress). 
We kowtowed to her, and told her we were very 
much pleased with everything she had given 
us. Her Maj esty told the eunuchs to bring 
everything out for us to see. She said to us: 
"You see I give you one full official dress, one set 
of Chao Chu (amber heads), two embroidered 
gowns, four ordinary gowns for everyday wear, 
and two gowns for Chi Chen wear (the anniver- 
sary of the death of an Emperor or Empress), 
one sky blue, the other mauve, with very little 
trimming. I also have a lot of underwear for 
you." I was excited and told Her Majesty that 
I would like to commence to dress up at once. 
She smiled, and said: "You must wait until the 
day comes, the lucky day I have selected for you. 
You must try to fix your hair first, which is the 
most difficult thing to do. Ask the Young 
Empress to teach you." Although she told me 
to wait, I knew she was pleased to see that I 
showed so much enthusiasm. She asked me the 
first day when we came to the Court why my 
hair was so curly. I showed her that I curled 



THE YOUNG EMPRESS 153 

it with paper, and she teased me ever afterwards. 
She also said that I could not pull my hair 
straight in time to wear Manchu clothes, that 
everyone would laugh at me, and how ugly I 
would look. That night one Court lady came 
over to me while I was sitting on the veranda 
and said: "I wonder if you will look nice in 
Manchu dress?" I told her I only wanted to 
look natural. "You have lived so many years 
abroad we consider you are a foreigner to us." 
I told her that as long as Her Majesty consid- 
ered I was one of her own, I would be satisfied 
and that she need not worry herself about me. I 
knew they were jealous of us, so I went in search 
of the Young Empress and left this girl alone. 
We were talking with the Young Empress in the 
waitingroom, and this girl came in and sat near 
me, smihng to herself most of the time. One of 
the servant girls was fixing some fresh flowers 
for Her Majesty. She looked at her and asked 
her why she was smiling. The Young Empress 
saw, and asked her the same question. She 
would not answer, but kept on smiling all the 
time. At this moment a eunuch came and said 
that Her Majesty wanted me. I afterwards 
tried to find out what she had told the Young 
Empress but could not. Several days passed 
very quietly. Her Majesty was happy, and so 
was I. One day the Young Empress reminded 



154. TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

us that we should make all preparations in or- 
der to be able to dress ourselves properly on the 
eighteenth, as the time was getting short — only 
two days left. That night, after Her Majesty 
had retired, I went to my own room and fixed 
my headdress on and went to see the Young 
Empress. She said that I looked very nice, and 
that she was sure Her Majesty would like me 
better in Manchu costume. I told her that I 
used to wear Manchu dress when I was a little 
girl, before we went to Europe, and of course I 
knew how to put it on. I also told her that I 
could not understand why these girls looked 
upon me as a foreigner. She said that they only 
showed their ignorance, and that they were 
jealous of me and I should not pay any attention 
to them at all. 



CHAPTER ELEVEN 

OUR COSTUMES 

The next day we got up earlier than usual and 
dressed ourselves in our new gowns. I could not 
believe my own eyes, and asked several times 
whether that was myself or not. I found that 
I looked all right, although I hadn't been wear- 
ing this sort of costume for so long. They 
seemed to think that we would look awkward. 
Our own eunuchs were delighted to see us dressed 
that way. The Young Empress came in while 
passing our rooms on her way to the Empress 
Dowager's Palace, and waited for us to go with 
her. When we arrived at the waitingroom a lot 
of people came in and looked at us, and talked 
so much about us, that it made me feel rather 
shy. Everyone told us that we looked much bet- 
ter that way than in foreign clothes, except the 
Emperor Kwang Hsu. He said to me: "I 
think your Parisian gowns are far prettier than 
this." I smiled and said nothing. He shook 
his head at me, and went into Her Majesty's 
bedroom. Li Lien Ying came and saw us, and 
was very much excited and told me to go and 

155 



156 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

see Her Majesty at once. I told him that 
everyone was looking at us, as if we were curios. 
He said: "You don't know how nice you 
look now, and I wish that you would not wear 
foreign clothes at all." Her Majesty laughed 
so loud when she saw us that it made me uncom- 
fortable, for I was afraid we looked unnatural 
to her. She said: "I cannot believe you are the 
same girls. Just look at yourselves in this look- 
ing-glass." She pointed to a large mirror in her 
room. "See how you have changed. I feel that 
you belong to me now. I must have some more 
gowns made for you." Then Li Lien Ying said 
that the twenty-fourth would be the first day of 
the Summer. On that day everyone would be- 
gin to wear jade hairpins instead of gold, and we 
had none. Her Majesty said to Li: "I am very 
glad you told me that. I must give them each a 
jade hairpin after having asked them to change 
into Manchu dress." Li went away and came 
back with a box of hairpins of pure green 
jade. Her Majesty took a beautiful one and 
handed it to my mother and told her that that 
pin had been worn by three Empresses. She 
took two very nice ones, and gave one to me and 
one to my sister. She told us that these two 
were a pair, and that the other Empress Dow- 
ager (the East Empress Dowager) used to wear 
one, and that the other was worn by herself when 



OUR COSTUMES 157 

she was young. I felt ashamed that Her 
Majesty had given us so many presents and I 
had done nothing for her in any way. How- 
ever, we thanked her most sincerely, and showed 
our appreciation. She said: "I look upon you 
as my own people, and the gowns I have made 
for you are the very best. I have also decided to 
let you wear the full Court dress, the same as one 
of the Princesses. You are my Court lady, so 
you are equally ranked here." Li stood there 
behind her and made a sign to us to kowtow to 
her. I cannot remember how many times I kow- 
towed that day. The headdress was very heavy, 
and I was not quite used to it; I was afraid it 
might fall off. Her Majesty also said that she 
would make our rank known to the Court on her 
seventieth birthday. I will explain this. On 
every decade from the time of her birth Her 
Majesty used to give special favors to anyone 
she liked, or to anyone who had done something 
for her, and had been useful to her. She could 
promote anyone at any time, but on these occa- 
sions it was something special. The Young 
Empress congratulated us, and said that Her 
Majesty was looking for a young Prince to 
marry me. She was also very fond of teasing. 
I wrote to my father about all the favors that 
had been given to me. He wrote me he hoped 
that I deserved them all, and that I must do all 



158 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

I could to be useful and loyal to Her Majesty 
as long as she lived. 

I was very happy. Life was perfectly lovely 
at the Palace. Her Majesty was always nice 
and kind. I noticed the difference in the way 
she had treated us since (as she said) we had 
become Manchus once more. One day Her 
Majesty asked me while we were sailing on the 
lake in the moonlight, if I wanted to go to Europe 
any more. It was a superb night, and several 
boats were sailing behind us. In one boat sev- 
eral eunuchs were playing a kind of sweet music 
on the flute and an instrument very much like 
the mandolin, called Yeuh Chin (small harp, 
like the shape of the moon), with Her Majesty 
singing very softly to herself. I told her I was 
satisfied to be with her, and did not wish to go 
anywhere at all. She said that I must learn to 
sing poetry and that she would teach me every 
day. I told her that my father had made me 
study all kinds of poetry and I had composed 
some myself. She looked surprised and said; 
"Why didn't you tell me that before? I love 
poems. You must read to me sometimes. I 
have many books here containing poems of differ- 
ent dynasties." I told her that my knowledge 
of Chinese literature was very limited, and I 
dared not let her see how little I knew. I had 
only studied eight years. Her Majesty told 



OUR COSTUMES 159 

me that the Young Empress and herself were 
the only ones who were familiar with Chinese lit- 
erature at the Court. She told me that she 
tried to teach the Court ladies to read and write 
some time ago, but having found them so lazy- 
she gave them up. My father told me to be very 
careful not to show them what I could do until 
I was asked, so I kept it to myself. After they 
found this out, some of the Court ladies were 
very disagreeable to me, and this went on day 
after day. 

Except for this unpleasantness the fourth 
moon passed very agreeably. The first day of 
the fifth moon was a busy day for us all, as from 
the first to the fifth of the fifth moon was the 
festival of five poisonous insects, which I will 
explain later — also called the Dragon Boat Fes- 
tival. All the Viceroys, Governors and high 
officials, besides the Imperial Family, Court 
ladies and eunuchs, all offer Her Majesty beau- 
tiful presents. I never saw such a lot of things 
as came into the Palace during this festival. 
Each person who sent in presents must accom- 
pany them with a sheet of yellow paper, and at 
the right lower corner the sender's name must be 
written and also the word Kuai Jin, meaning to 
present their gifts kneeling, also to write what 
the presents were. The eunuchs took big yel- 
low trays to bring them in. During these five 



160 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

days everyone was busy, especially the eunuchs. 
I could not count just how many people sent 
presents to Her Majesty. The presents were of 
every kind, such as things for the household ; silks 
and jewelry of all kinds and description. A 
large part of the presents were foreign goods 
of the ordinary kind. I also saw lovely carved 
thrones and embroideries. Her Majesty ordered 
them to be put away, and the foreign things to 
be kept in her Palace, for those were new to her. 
The third day of the fifth moon was the day 
for just the people of the Palace to make pres- 
ents. It was a most beautiful sight to see. We 
were busy all night making preparations, and 
had to go and help the Young Empress. The 
next morning we placed our presents in the big 
courtyard in these big yellow trays. The 
Young Empress had her trays in the first row. 
The presents from the Young Empress to the 
Empress Dowager were made by her own hands. 
There were ten pairs of shoes, silk embroid- 
ered handkerchiefs, little bags for betel nuts, 
and bags for tobacco, all exquisitely done. The 
Secondary wife of the Emperor Kwang Hsu 
presented about the same to Her Majesty. The 
Court ladies' presents were all different, as we 
could ask permission to go out shopping before 
the Feast. We could not go out together, for 
one or two of us must be there at all times, and 



OUR COSTUMES 161 

it was very exciting to tell each other what 
we had bought. We ourselves did not ask per- 
mission to go out of the Palace, for we had 
our presents ready long before. Everyone 
seemed to be talking about presents, whether 
Her Majesty would like them or not. My 
mother, my sister and myself had written to 
Paris to get some lovely French brocades, one 
set of furniture, French Empire style. We had 
learned Her Majesty's taste already during our 
short stay there, so including those presents we 
also gave her fans, perfumes, soaps and some 
other French novelties. Her Majesty always 
looked over everything, and noticed some of the 
presents were of very poor quality, and wanted 
to know the sender's name. The eunuchs and 
servant girls also made her good and useful pres- 
ents. Her Majesty would select the articles she 
liked the best, and order the rest to be put 
away, and she might never see them again. I 
must say that Her Majesty liked and admired 
some foreign things very much, she especially 
loved the French fancy brocades, for she was 
making new gowns almost every day. She was 
also pleased with soaps and powder that would 
beautify the skin. She always thanked us in a 
very nice way and said how very thoughtful we 
were in selecting beautiful articles for her. Her 
Majesty would also say something nice to the 



16a TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

eunuchs and girls, and that made everyone feel 
pleased. 

The fourth day of the fifth moon was the day 
that Her Majesty gave presents to us aU, the 
different Princes, high officials, servant girls and 
eunuchs. Her memory was something extraor- 
dinary, for she could remember every one of the 
presents that had been given to her the day 
before, and the names of the givers also. That 
was a busy day for us. Her Majesty gave 
people presents according to the way they gave 
her. We had yellow sheets of paper and wrote 
out the names of those to whom she wished 
to give. That day Her Majesty was very angry 
with one of the wives of a certain Prince because 
her presents were the poorest. Her Majesty 
told me to keep that tray in her room and said 
she would go over them and see what they were. 
I knew she was not pleased, for she had a 
telltale face. She told us to measure the silks 
and ribbons in that tray, and leave it in the hall. 
The ribbons were all of different lengths, all too 
short to trim a gown, and the dress materials 
were not of good quality. Her Majesty said 
to me: "Now you look for yourself. Are these 
good presents? I know very well all these 
things were given to them by other people and 
they of course would select the best for them- 
selves, and give me what was left. They know 



OUR COSTUMES 163 

they are obliged to send me something. I 
am surprised to see how careless they are. 
Probably they thought as I receive so many 
presents I would not notice. They are mis- 
taken, for I notice the poorest the first, in fact 
I can remember everything. I can see those who 
gave me things in order to please me, and those 
who gave because they were obliged to. I will 
return them the same way." She gave the 
Court ladies each a beautiful embroidered gown 
and a few hundred taels, the same to the Young 
Empress and the Secondary wife. The pres- 
ents which she gave us were a little different, 
consisting of two embroidered gowns, several 
simple ones, jackets and sleeveless jackets, shoes, 
and flowers for the Manchu headdress. She 
said that we had not so many gowns, and instead 
of giving us the money, she had things made for 
us. Besides that, she gave me a pair of very 
pretty earrings, but none to my sister, for she 
noticed that I had a pair of ordinary gold ear- 
rings, while my sister had a pair set with pearls 
and jade. Her Majesty said to my mother: 
"Yii Tai Tai. I can see you love one daughter 
better than the other. Roonling has such pretty 
earrings and poor Derling has none." Before 
my mother could answer her she had turned to 
me while I was standing at the back of her chair : 
*T will have a nice pair made for you. You are 



164 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

mine now." My mother told her that I did not 
like to wear heavy earrings. Her Majesty 
laughed and said: "Never mind, she is mine now, 
and I will give her everything she needs. You 
have nothing to do with her." The earrings she 
gave me were very heavy. Her Majesty said 
that if I would wear them every day I would get 
used to them, and so it proved that after some 
time I thought nothing of it. 

N^ow about this Feast. It is also called the 
Dragon Boat Feast. The fifth of the fifth 
moon at noon was the most poisonous hour for 
the poisonous insects, and reptiles such as frogs, 
lizards, snakes, hide themselves in the mud, for 
that hour they are paralyzed. Some medical 
men search for them at that hour and place them 
in jars, and when they are dried, sometime use 
them as medicine. Her Majesty told me this, 
so that day I went all over everywhere and dug 
into the ground, but found nothing. The usual 
custom was that at noon Her Majesty took a 
small cup filled with spirits of wine, and added 
a kind of yellow powder (something like sul- 
phur). She took a small brush and dipped it 
into the cup and made a few spots of this yel- 
low paint under our nostrils and ears. This 
was to prevent any insects from crawling on us 
during the coming summer. The reason why 
it was also called the Dragon Boat Festival was 



OUR COSTUMES 3.65 

because at the time of the Chou Dynasty the 
country was divided into several parts. Each 
place had a ruler. The Emperor Chou had a 
Prime Minister named Chi Yuan, who advised 
him to make alliance with the other six coun- 
tries, but the Emperor refused, and Chi Yuan 
thought that the country would be taken bj'- oth- 
ers in the near future. He could not influence 
the Emperor, so he made up his mind to commit 
suicide and jumped into the river, taking a 
large piece of stone with him. This happened 
on the fifth day of tlie fifth moon, so the year 
afterwards, the Emperor got into a Dragon boat 
to worship his soul, and throw rice cakes, called 
Tzu Tsi, into the river. On that day the people 
have celebrated this feast ever since. At the 
Palace the theatre played first this history, which 
was very interesting, and also played the insects 
trying to hide themselves before the most poison- 
ous hour arrived. On that day we all wore tiger 
shoes, the front part of which was made of a 
tiger's head, with little tigers made of yellow silk 
to wear on the headdress. These tigers were 
only for the children to wear, and signified that 
they would be as strong as a tiger, but Her 
Majesty wanted us to wear them also. The 
wives of the Manchu officials came to the Court, 
and when they saw us they laughed at us. We 
told them it was by Her Majesty's orders. 



166 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

A register recording the birthdays of all the 
Court ladies was kept by the head eunuch, and 
a few days before my own birthday came around, 
the tenth day of the fifth moon, he informed me 
that the custom of the Court was to make a pres- 
ent to Her Majesty and said that the present 
should take the form of fruit, cakes, etc., so I or- 
dered eight boxes of different kinds. 

Early in the morning I put on full Court dress, 
and made myself look as nice as possible and 
went to wish Her Majesty good morning. 
When she had finished dressing, the eunuchs 
brought in the presents and, kneeling, I pre- 
sented them to Her Majesty, bowing to the 
ground nine times. She thanked me and wished 
me a happy birthday. She then made me a pres- 
ent of a pair of sandalwood bracelets, beautifully 
carved, also a few rolls of brocade silk. She 
also informed me that she had ordered some 
macaroni in honor of my birthday. This maca- 
roni is called (Chang Shou Me'en) long life 
macaroni. This was the custom. I again bowed 
and thanked her for her kindness and thought- 
fulness. After bowing to the Young Empress 
and receiving in return two pairs of shoes and 
several embroidered neckties, I returned to my 
room, where I found presents from all the Court 
ladies. 

Altogether I had a very happy birthday. 



OUR COSTUMES 167 

I can never forget the fifteenth day of the 
fifth moon as long as I hve, for that was a bad 
day for everyone. As usual we went to Her 
Majesty's bedroom quite early that morning. 
She could not get up and complained that her 
back ached so much. We rubbed her back, in 
turns, and finally she got up, though a little late. 
She was not satisfied. The Emperor came in and 
knelt down to wish her good morning, but she 
scarcely took any notice of him. I noticed that 
when the Emperor saw that Her Majesty was 
not well, he said very little to her. The eunuch 
who dressed her hair every morning was ill, and 
had ordered another one to help her. Her 
Majesty told us to watch him very closely to see 
that he did not pull her hair off. She could not 
bear to see even one or two hairs fall out. This 
eunuch was not used to trickery, for instance, 
in case the hair was falling off, he could not hide 
it like the other one did. This poor man did not 
know what to do with any that came out. He 
was frightened, and Her Majesty, seeing him 
through the mirror, asked him whether he had 
pulled her hair out. He said that he had. This 
made her furious, and she told him to replace it. 
I almost laughed, but the eunuch was very much 
frightened and started to cry. Her Majesty or- 
dered him to leave the room, and said she would 
punish him later. We helped her to fix up her 



168 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

hair. I must say it was not an easy job, for 
she had very long hair and it was difficult to 
comb. 

She went to the morning audience, as usual, 
and after that she told the head eunuch what had 
happened. This Li was indeed a bad and cruel 
man, and said: "Why not beat him to death?" 
Immediately she ordered Li to take this man to 
his own quarters to receive punishment. Then 
Her Majesty said the food was bad, and or- 
dered the cooks to be punished also. They 
told me that whenever Her Majesty was angry 
everything went wrong, so I was not surprised 
that so many things happened that day. Her 
Majesty said that we aU looked too vain with 
our hair too low down at the back of the head. 
(This Manchu headdress is placed right in the 
center of one's head and the back part is called 
the swallow's tail, and must reach the bottom 
part of one's collar.) We had our hair done up 
the same way every day, and she had previously 
never said a word about it. She looked at us, 
and said: "Now I am going to the audience, and 
don't need you all here. Go back to your rooms 
and fix your hair all over again. If I ever see 
you all like that again I am going to cut your 
hair off." I was never more surprised in my life 
when I heard her speak so sharply to us, I 
don't know whether I was spoken to or not, but 



OUR COSTUMES 169 

I thought it well to be wise, and I answered I 
would. We were all ready to go and Her Maj- 
esty stood there watching us. When we were 
about five or six feet away we heard her scolding 
Chun Shou (the girl who was neither a Court 
lady nor a servant) . Her Majesty said she was 
pretending she was all right, and Her Majesty 
ordered her to go also. When we were walking 
towards our own place, some of them laughed at 
Chun Shou, which made her angry. When Her 
Majesty was angry with anyone, she would say 
that we were all doing something on purpose to 
make her angry. I must say that everyone of 
us was scared, and wondered who would have 
dared to do that. On the contrary, we tried our 
best to please her in every way. 

But that day she was furious all day and I 
tried to stay away from her. I noticed some of 
the eunuchs went to her to ask questions con- 
cerning important matters, but she would not 
look at them, but kept on reading her book. To 
tell the truth, I felt miserable that day. At the 
beginning I thought all the eunuchs were faith- 
ful servants, but seeing them every day, I got 
to know them. It did not do them any harm to 
be punished once in a while. 

The Young Empress told me to go in and 
wait on Her Majesty as usual. She said that 
probably if I would suggest playing dice with 



,170 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

her, she might forget her troubles. At first I 
did not want to go, for I was afraid that she 
might say something to me, but seeing that the 
poor Young Empress spoke to me so nicely, I 
told her I would try. When I entered Her 
Majesty's sitting room I found her reading a 
book. She looked at me and said: "Come over 
here, I would like to tell you something. You 
know these people at the Palace are no good and 
I don't like them at all. I don't want them to 
poison your ears by telling you how wicked I 
am. Don't talk to them. Y^ou must not fix 
your hair too low down at the back of your head. 
I was not angry with you this morning. I know 
you are different. Don't let them influence you. 
I want you to be on my side, and do as I tell 
you." Her Majesty spoke very kindly to me, 
and her face changed also — not at all the 
same face she had that morning. Of course I 
promised her that I would be only too happy 
to do all I could to please her. She spoke to 
me just like a good mother would speak to a 
dear child. I changed my opinion and thought 
that perhaps after all she was right, but I had 
often heard from the officials that one cannot 
be good to a eunuch, as he would do all he could 
to injure you without any reason whatsoever. 

I noticed that day they all seemed to be more 
careful in doing their work. I was told that 



OUR COSTUMES 171 

when once Her Majesty got angry, she would 
never finish. On the contrary, she talked to me 
very nicely, just as if there had been no troubles 
at all. She was not difficult to wait upon, only 
one had to watch her moods. I thought how 
fascinating she was, and I had already forgotten 
that she had been angry. She seemed to have 
guessed what I was thinking, and said: "I can 
make people hate me worse than poison, and can 
also make them love me. I have that power." 
I thought she was right there. 



CHAPTER TWELVE 

THE EMPRESS AND MRS. CONGER 

On the twenty-sixth day of the fifth moon^ 
during the morning audience, Prince Ching told 
Her Majesty that Mrs. Conger, the wife of the 
American Minister to Peking, had asked for a 
private audience, and would Her Majesty please 
mention a day. She told him not to give any 
answer until the next day, just to give her time 
to think it over. I was sitting behind the large 
screen, listening, but the other Court ladies 
made too much noise, so Her Majesty ordered 
them not to say a word during audience. I 
was very glad myself, because I could listen 
to some of the interesting conversations between 
the Empress Dowager and her Ministers. After 
the audience. Her Majesty ordered her lunch to 
be served on the top of the hill at Pai Yuen Dien 
(Spreading Cloud Pavilion). She said that she 
preferred to walk, so we followed her very slowly. 
To get to this place we had to mount two hun- 
dred and seventy-two steps, besides ten minutes' 
climbing over rough stones. She did not seem 
to mind the climbing part at all. It was the 

172 




Bridge at the Summer Palace 




The Jade Girdle Bridge — Summer Palace 



THE EMPRESS AND MRS. CONGER 173 

funniest tiling to see two little eunuchs on either 
side, to support her arms, trying to keep pace 
with her. I noticed that she was very much 
preoccupied, and did not speak to any of us. 
When we arrived at our destination we were 
very tired and quite exhausted. Her Majesty, 
who was a good walker herself, laughed at us. 
She was always very much pleased when she 
excelled in games of skill or endurance. She 
said: "You see I am old, and can walk much 
faster than you young people. You are all no 
use. What is the matter with you?" Her 
Majesty was very fond of receiving compliments. 
I had been there long enough to know and had 
learned to say things which would please her. 
She also hated anyone to pay her compliments at 
the wrong moment, so one had to be very careful 
even in paying her complimetots. 

This "spreading cloud" pavilion was a beau- 
tiful Palace. It had an open space in front of 
the building, just like one of the courtyards, with 
pink and white oleanders all over the place. 
There was a porcelain table and several porcelain 
stools. Her Majesty sat on her own yellow 
satin stool and was drinking her tea in silence. 
It was very windy that day, although the sky 
was blue with warm sunshine. Her Majesty sat 
there just for a few minutes, and then said it was 
too windy and went into the building. I was 



174* TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

more than glad to go in, too, and whispered to the 
Young Empress that I thought the wind might 
blow off my headdress. The eunuchs brought 
the luncheon and placed everything upon the 
table. The Young Empress made a sign for us 
to follow her, which we did. When we came to 
the back veranda we sat down on the window 
seats. I will explain about these seats. All the 
windows were built low at the Palace, and on the 
veranda there was something like a bench built 
along the window, about a foot wide. There 
were no chairs to be seen excepting Her 
Majesty's thrones. The Young Empress asked 
me whether I had noticed that Her Majesty had 
something on her mind. I told her that perhaps 
she was thinking about the private audience which 
Prince Ching had mentioned that morning. She 
said that I had guessed right, and asked: "Do 
you know anything about this audience? When 
will it take place?" I said that Her Majesty 
had not yet given her answer. 

By this time Her Majesty had finished eating 
and was walking up and down the room, watch- 
ing us eating. She came over to my mother and 
said: "I am just wondering why Mrs. Conger 
asks for a private audience. Perhaps she has 
something to say to me. I would like to know 
just what it is so I can prepare an answer." 
My mother said that probably Mrs. Conger had 



THE EMPRESS AND MRS. CONGER 175 

someone visiting her who wished to he presented 
to Her Majesty. "No, it can't be that, because 
they must give the Hst of names of those who 
wish to come to the Palace. I don't mind the 
formal audiences, but I don't think that I should 
have private ones at all. I don't like to be ques- 
tioned, as you all know. The foreigners are, of 
course, very nice and polite, according to their 
own way, but they cannot compare with us, so far 
as etiquette is concerned. I may be conservative 
in saying that I admire our custom and will 
not change it as long as I live. You see our 
people are taught to be polite from their earliest 
childhood, and just look back at the oldest teach- 
ings and compare them with the new. People 
seem to like the latter the best. I mean that the 
new idea is to be Christians, to chop up their 
Ancestral Tablets and burn them. I know many 
families here who have broken up because of the 
missionaries, who are always influencing the 
young people to believe their religion. Now I 
tell you why I feel uneasy about this audience 
is because we are too poHte to refuse anyone who 
asks any favors in person. The foreigners don't 
seem to understand that. I'll tell you what I 
will do. Whenever they ask me anything, I'll 
simply tell them that I am not my own boss, but 
have to consult with my Ministers ; that although 
I am the Empress Dowager of China, I must 



176 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

also obey the law. To tell the truth, I like 
Madame Uchida (wife of the Japanese Minister 
to Peking) very much. She is always very nice 
and doesn't ask any silly questions. Of course 
the Japanese are very much like ourselves, not 
at all forward. Last year, before you came to 
the Court, a missionary lady came with Mrs. 
Conger, and suggested that I should establish a 
school for girls at the Palace. I did not like to 
offend her, and said that I would take it into 
consideration. Now, just imagine it for a mo- 
ment. Wouldn't it be foolish to have a school 
at the Palace ; besides, where am I going to get so 
many girls to study? I have enough to do as it 
is. I don't want all the children of the Imperial 
family studying at my Palace." 

Her Majesty laughed while she was telling us 
this, and everyone else laughed, too. She said: 
"I am sure you will laugh. Mrs. Conger is a 
very nice lady. America is always very friendly 
towards China, and I appreciate their nice 
behavior at the Palace during the twenty- 
sixth year of Kwang Hsu (1900), but I cannot 
say that I love the missionaries, too. Li Lien 
Ying told me that these missionaries here give 
the Chinese a certain medicine, and that after 
that they wish to become Christians, and then 
they would pretend to tell the Chinese to think 
it over very carefully, for they would never force 



THE EMPRESS AND MRS. CONGER 177 

anyone to believe their religion against their own 
will. Missionaries also take the poor Chinese 
children and gouge their eyes out, and use them 
as a kind of medicine." I told her that that was 
not true; that I had met a great many mission- 
aries, and that they were very kind-hearted and 
willing to do anything to help the poor Chinese. 
I also told her what they had done for the poor 
orphans — given them a home, food and clothing; 
that sometimes they went into the interior and 
found the blind children who might be useless to 
their parents, and when they get them they have 
to support them. I know several cases like that. 
These country people offer their deformed chil- 
dren to the missionaries, as they are too poor 
to feed and take care of them. I told her about 
their schools, and how they helped the poor peo- 
ple. Her Majesty then laughed, and said: "Of 
course I believe what you say, but why don't 
these missionaries stay in their own country and 
be useful to their own people?" I thought it 
would be of no use for me to talk too much, 
but at the same time I would like her to know 
of the dreadful times some of the missionaries 
had in China. Some time ago, two of them 
were murdered at Wu Shuih, in June, 1892 (a 
little below Hankow), the church being burnt 
down by the mob. My father was appointed by 
yiceroy Chang Chih Tung to investigate the 



178 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

matter. After much trouble he caught three of 
the murderers and, according to the Chinese law, 
they were put to death by hanging in wooden 
cages, and the Government paid an indemnity 
to the families of the murdered missionaries. 
The year after, 1893, a Catholic church was 
burnt down at Mar Cheng, on the Yangtse, 
near Ichang. The mob said they saw many 
blind children at the church, who were made to 
work after having their eyes gouged out. The 
Prefect of Ichang Province said it was true 
that missionaries did get the Chinese childrens' 
eyes for making medicine, so my father sug- 
gested having those blind children brought into 
the Yamen and ask them. The Prefect was 
a most wicked man, and was very anti-foreign 
also. He gave the poor children plenty of food, 
and taught them to say that the missionaries did 
gouge their eyes out, but when they were brought 
in the next day they said that the missionaries 
treated them very kindly and gave them a nice 
home, good food and clothing. They said they 
were blind long before they became Catholics, 
and also said that the Prefect had taught them 
to say that the missionaries were cruel to them, 
which was not true. The blind children begged 
to go back to the school and said that they were 
very happy there. 

Her Majesty said: "That may be all right for 



THE EMPRESS AND MRS. CONGER 179 

them to help the poor and relieve their suffering. 
For instance, like our great Buddha Ju Lai, who 
fed the hungry birds with his own flesh. I would 
love them if they would leave my people alone. 
Let us believe our own religion. Do you know 
how the Boxer rising began? Why, the Chinese 
Christians were to blame. The Boxers were 
treated badly by them, and wanted revenge. 
Of course that is always the trouble with the 
low class of people. They went too far, and at 
the same time thought to make themselves rich 
by setting fire to every house in Peking. It 
made no difference whose house. They wanted 
to burn so long as they could get money. These 
Chinese Christians are the worst people in China. 
They rob the poor country people of their land 
and property, and the missionaries, of course, 
always protect them, in order to get a share them- 
selves. Whenever a Chinese Christian is taken 
to the Magistrate's Yamen, he is not supposed 
to kneel down on the ground and obey the Chinese 
law, as others do, and is always very rude to his 
own Government Officials. Then these mission- 
aries do the best they can to protect him, whether 
he is wrong or not, and believe everything he 
says and make the magistrate set the prisoner 
free. Do you remember that your father es- 
tablished rules in the twenty-fourth year of 
Kwang Hsu, how the Chinese officials should 



180 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

treat the Bishops whenever they had dealings 
with each other? I know the common class of 
people become Christians — also those who are in 
trouble — but I don't believe that any of the high 
officials are Christians." Her Majesty looked 
around and whispered: "Kang Yue Wai (the re- 
former in 1898) tried to make the Emperor be- 
lieve that religion. No one shall believe as long 
as I live. I must say that I admire the foreigners 
in some ways. For instance, their navies and 
armies, and engineers, but as regards civilization 
I should say that China is the first country by 
all means. I know that many people believe 
that the Government had connections with the 
Boxers, but that is not true. As soon as we 
found out the trouble we issued several Edicts, 
and ordered the soldiers to drive them out, but 
they had gone too far already. I made up my 
mind not to go out of the Palace at all. I am 
an old woman, and did not care whether I died 
or not, but Prince Tuang and Duke Lan sug- 
gested that we should go at once. They also 
suggested that we should go in disguise, which 
made me very angry, and I refused. After the 
return of the Court to Peking, I was told that 
many people believed that I did go in disguise, 
and said that I was dressed in one of my servant's 
clothes, and rode in a broken cart drawn by a 
mule, and that this old woman servant of mine 



THE EMPRESS AND MRS. CONGER 181 

was dressed as the Empress Dowager, and rode 
in my sedan chair. I wonder who made that 
story up? Of course everyone beheved it, and 
such a story would get to the foreigners in Peking 
without any trouble. 

"jSTow to come back to the question of the 
Boxer Rising. How badly I was treated by my 
own servants. No one seemed anxious to go with 
me, and a great many ran away before the Court 
had any idea of leaving the Capital at all, and 
those who stayed would not work, but stood 
around and waited to see what was going to 
happen. I made up my mind to ask and see 
how many would be willing to go, so I said 
to everyone: 'If you servants are willing to go 
with me, you can do so, and those who are not 
willing, can leave me.' I was very much sur- 
prised to find that there were very few standing 
around listening. Only seventeen eunuchs, two 
old women servants and one servant girl, that was 
Sho Chu. Those people said they would go with 
me, no matter what happened. I had 3,000 
eunuchs, but they were nearly all gone before 
I had the chance of counting them. Some of 
the wicked ones were even rude to me, and threw 
my valuable vases on the stone floor, and smashed 
them. They knew that I could not punish them 
at that important moment, for we were leaving. 
I cried very much and prayed for our Great 



182 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

Ancestors' Souls to protect us. Everyone knelt 
with me and prayed. The Young Empress was 
the only one of my family who went with me. A 
certain relative of mine, whom I was very fond 
of, and gave her everything she asked, refused 
to go with me. I knew that the reason she would 
not go was because she thought the foreign sol- 
diers would catch up the runaway Court, and kill 
everyone. 

"After we had been gone about seven days, I 
sent one eunuch back, to find out who was still in 
Peking. She asked this eunuch whether there 
were any foreign soldiers chasing us, and whether 
I was killed. Soon after the Japanese soldiers 
took her Palace, and drove her out. She thought 
she was going to die anyway, and as I was not 
yet assassinated, she might catch up with the 
Court, and go with us. I could not understand 
how she traveled so fast. One evening we were 
staying at a little country house, when she came in 
with her husband, a nice man. She was telling 
me how much she had missed me, and how very 
anxious she had been all that time to know 
whether I was safe or not, and cried. I refused 
to listen to what she was saying and told her 
plainly that I did not believe a word. From that 
time she was finished for me. I had a very hard 
time, traveling in a sedan chair, from early 
morning, before the sun rose, until dark and in 



THE EMPRESS AND MRS. CONGER 183 

the evening had to stop at some country place. I 
am sure you would pity me, old as I am, that 
I should have had to suffer in that way. 

"The Emperor went all the way in a cart, 
drawn by a mule, also the Empress. I went 
along, and was praying to our Great Ancestors 
for protection, but the Emperor was very quiet, 
and never opened his mouth. One day some- 
thing happened. It rained so much and some 
of the chair carriers ran away. Some of the 
mules died suddenly. It was very hot, and the 
rain was pouring down on our heads. Five small 
eunuchs ran away also, because we were obliged 
to punish them the night before on account of 
their bad behavior to the Magistrate, who did 
all he could to make me comfortable, but of course 
food was scarce. I heard these eunuchs quar- 
reling with the Magistrate, who bowed to the 
ground, begging them to keep quiet, and prom- 
ised them everything. I was of course very an- 
gry. Traveling under such circumstances one 
ought to be satisfied that one was provided for. 

"It took us more than a month before we 
reached Shi An. I cannot tell you how fatigued 
I was, and was of course worrying very much, 
which made me quite ill for almost three months. 
So long as I live I cannot forget it. 

"We returned to Peking early in the twenty- 
eighth year of Kwang Hsu and I had another 



184^ TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

dreadful feeling when I saw my own Palace 
again. Oh! it was quite changed; a great many- 
valuable ornaments broken or stolen. All the 
valuable things at the Sea Palace had been taken 
away, and someone had broken the fingers of my 
white jade Buddha, to whom I used to worship 
every day. Several foreigners sat on my throne 
and had their photos taken. When I was at the 
Shi An I was just like being sent into exile, 
although the Viceroy's Yamen was prepared for 
us, but the building was very old, damp and 
unhealthy. The Emperor became ill. It would 
take a long time to tell you everything ; I thought 
I had enough trouble, but this last was the worst. 
When I have time, I will tell you more about it. 
I want you to know the absolute truth. 

"Now let us come back to the question of Mrs. 
Conger's private audience. There must be some- 
thing special, but I hope that she will not ask 
for anything, for I hate to refuse her. Can you 
guess what it is ?" I told Her Majesty that there 
could not be anything special; besides, Mrs. 
Conger considered herself to be a person who 
knew Chinese etiquette very well, and I didn't 
believe she would ask for anything at all. Her 
Majesty said: "The only objection I have is that 
Mrs. Conger always brings one of the mission- 
aries as her interpreter, when I have your mother, 
your sister and yourself, which I think should 



THE EMPRESS AND MRS. CONGER 185 

be sufficient. I don't think it is right for her 
to do that; besides, I cannot understand their 
Chinese very well. I like to see the ladies of the 
Diplomatic body sometimes, but not the mission- 
aries. I will stop that when the opportunity 
comes." 

The next morning Prince Ching told Her 
Majesty that the American Admiral, and Mrs. 
Evans, and suite wished to be jiresented to her. 
The American Minister asked two private audi- 
ences. He said he had made a mistake by tell- 
ing her that Mrs. Conger had asked an audience 
for herself, the day before. 

After the regular morning audience was over 
Her Majesty laughed and said: "Didn't I tell 
you yesterday that there must be a reason for 
asking an audience? I rather would like to meet 
the American Admiral and his wife." Turning 
to us she said: "Be sure and fix everything up 
pretty, change everything in my bedroom, so as 
not to show them our daily life." We all said 
"Jur" (yes), but we knew it was going to be a 
hard task to turn the Palace upside down. 

It was just the night before the appointed 
audience. We started to work taking off the 
pink silk curtains from every window, and 
changing them for sky blue (the color she hated) ; 
then we changed the cushions on the chairs to 
the same color. While we were watching the 



186 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

eunuchs doing the work, several of them came 
into the room, carrying a large tray full of clocks. 
By this time her Majesty had come into the room, 
and ordered us to remove all her white and green 
jade Buddhas and take some of the jade orna- 
ments away, for those things were sacred, and 
no foreigners should see them, so we replaced 
them with these clocks, instead. We also took 
away the three embroidered door curtains, and 
changed them for ordinary blue satin ones. I 
must explain that these three curtains were sa- 
cred, too. They were embroidered to repre- 
sent five hundred Buddhist deities, on old gold 
satin, and had been used by Emperor Tou 
Kwang. Her Majesty believed that by hang- 
ing these curtains at her door they would guard 
against evil spirits entering her room. The 
order was that one of us should remember to 
place them back again when the audience was 
over. We fixed every piece of furniture in her 
bedroom. Her toilet table was the most impor- 
tant thing. She would not let anyone see it — 
not even the wives of the Officials who came in, so 
of course we had to put it in a safe place, and lock 
it up. We changed her bed from pink color into 
blue. All her furniture was made of sandal- 
wood, also carvings on her bed. This sandal- 
wood, before it was made into furniture, was 
placed in different temples, to be sanctified, so of 



East Side of the Lake inside of the Summer Palace 












Stand erected for Foreigners by the Wei Wu Puh, in the 
Manchu City, and end of funeral followed by 
Palace Guards 



THE EMPRESS AND MRS. CONGER 187 

course no foreigner could see it. As we could not 
take this carving from her bed, we covered it up 
with embroidered hangings. While we were 
working Her Majesty came in and told us not to 
hurry in her bedroom, because the audience the 
next day would only be for Admiral Robley 
Evans and his staff, and they would not visit the 
private rooms. The audience for Mrs. Evans 
and the other ladies would be the day after. She 
said it was important to see that the Audience 
Hall was fixed up properly. She said: "Place 
the only carpet we have here in the hall. I don't 
like carpets anyway, but it cannot be helped." 

After we had finished, Her Majesty started 
to tell us what to wear for the ladies' audience. 
She said to me: "You need not come to the throne 
to-morrow, there will only be gentlemen. I will 
get one of the Ministers from Wai-Wu-Pu 
(Bureau of Foreign Affairs) . I don't want you 
to talk to so many strange men. It is not the 
Manchu custom. These people are all strangers. 
They might go back to America and tell every- 
body what you look hke." At the same time 
Her Majesty gave orders for the Imperial Yel- 
low Gown to be brought in next day, for the 
gentleman's audience. She said that she must 
dress in her official robe for this occasion. This 
robe was made of yellow satin, embroidered with 
gold dragons. She wore a necklace composed 



188 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

of one hundred and eight pearls, which formed 
part of this official dress. She said: "I don't like 
to wear this official robe. It is not pretty, but I 
am afraid I will have to." She said to all of us : 
"You need not dress especially." 

The next morning Her Majesty got up early, 
and was busier than ever. It seemed to me that 
whenever we had an audience we always had so 
much trouble. Something was sure to go wrong 
and make Her Majesty angry. She said: "I 
want to look nice, and be amiable, but these peo- 
ple always make me angry. I know the Amer- 
ican Admiral will go home and tell his people 
about me, and I don't want him to have a wrong 
impression." It took her almost two hours to 
dress her hair, and by that time it was too late for 
her usual morning audience, so she proposed hold- 
ing that after the foreigners had gone away. 
She looked at herself in the looking-glass, with 
her Imperial robe on, and told me that she did not 
like it, and asked me whether I thought the for- 
eigners would know that it was an official robe. 
*'I look too ugly in yellow. It makes my face 
look the same color as my robe," she said. I 
suggested that as it was only a private audience, 
if she wished to dress differently, it would not 
matter at all. She seemed delighted, and I was 
afraid lest I had not made a proper suggestion, 
but anyway I was too busy to worry. Her 



THE EMPRESS AND MRS. CONGER 189 

Majesty ordered that her different gowns should 
be brought in, and after looking them over she 
selected one embroidered all over with the char- 
acter "Shou" (long life), covered with precious 
stones and pearls, on pale green satin. She tried 
it on, and said that it was becoming to her, so 
she ordered me to go to the jewel-room and get 
flowers to match for her hair. On one side of 
the headdress was the character (shou) and on 
the other side was a bat (the bat in China is con- 
sidered to be lucky) . Of course her shoes, hand- 
kerchiefs and everything else were embroidered 
in the same way. After she was dressed, she 
smiled and said: "I look all right now. We had 
better go to the audience hall and wait for them, 
and at the same time we can play a game of 
dice." Then to us all she said: "All of you will 
stay at the back of the screen during the audi- 
ence. You can see all right, but I don't wish 
that you should be seen." The eunuchs had laid 
the map down on the table and were just going 
to commence playing dice, when one of the high 
rank eunuchs came into the Hall and, kneeling 
down, said that the American Admiral had 
arrived at the Palace Gate, together with the 
American Minister — ten or twelve people alto- 
gether. Her Majesty smiled and said to me: 
"I thought it was just going to be the American 
Minister and the Admiral, and one or two of 



190 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

his staff. Who can the rest of the people be? 
However, never mind, I will receive them any- 
way." We helped her to mount her throne 
upon the dais, fixed her clothes, and handed her 
the paper containing the speech she was to give. 
Then we went back of the screen, with the Young 
Empress. It was so very quiet, not a sound 
anywhere, that we could hear the boots of 
the visitors as they walked over the stones in 
the courtyard. We were peeping from behind 
the screen, and could see several of the Princes 
mounting the steps, conducting these people to 
the Hall. The Admiral and the American Min- 
ister came in, and stood in a line. They bowed 
three times to the Empress Dowager. The 
Emperor was also on his throne, sitting at her 
left hand. His throne was very small, just like 
an ordinary chair. Her Majesty's speech was 
simply to welcome the Admiral to China. They 
then came up to the dais and shook hands with 
their Majesties, ascending on one side, and retir- 
ing down the other. Prince Ching took them 
into another Palace building, where they had 
lunch, and the audience was over. It was very 
simple and formal. 

After the audience was over Her Majesty said 
that she could hear us laughing behind the screen, 
and that maybe the people would talk about it, 
and did not like it at all. I told her that it 



THE EMPRESS AND MRS. CONGER 191 

was not myself who laughed. She said: ''The 
next time when I have men in audience you need 
not come into the Audience Hall at all. Of 
course it is different when I have my own people 
at the morning audiences." 

Her Majesty did not go to her bedroom that 
afternoon. She said she wanted to wait until 
these people had gone and hear what they had 
to say. After a couple of hours Prince Ching 
came in and reported that they had lunched, and 
that they were very pleased to have seen Her 
Majesty, and had gone away. I must here 
explain that the Admiral had entered by the left 
gate of the Palace. The middle gate was only 
used for Their Majesties, with one exception, 
viz. : in the case of anyone presenting credentials. 
Then they entered by the center gate. The 
Admiral left by the same gate he had entered. 
Her Majesty asked Prince Ching whether he 
had showed them around the Palace buildings 
or not (this was in the Summer Palace), and 
what they had thought about it. Did they say 
anything, and were they pleased or not. She 
said to Prince Ching: "You can go now, and 
make the necessary preparations for the ladies' 
audience next day." That same evening Her 
Majesty said to us: "You must all dress alike 
to-morrow, and wear your prettiest clothes. 
These foreign ladies who are coming to the Pal- 



192 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

ace may never see us again, and if we don't show 
them what we have now, we will not have another 
opportunity." She ordered us all, including the 
Young Empress, to wear pale blue, also the Sec- 
ondary wife of the Emperor. She said to me: 
"If the ladies ask who the Secondary wife is, you 
can tell them ; but if they don't ask, I don't want 
you to introduce her to them at all. I have to 
be very careful. These people at the Palace 
here are not used to seeing so many people and 
they might not have nice manners, and the for- 
eigners will laugh at them." Then she said to 
us again: "I always give presents when ladies 
come to the Court, but don't know whether I 
will give this time or not, for at the last audience 
I did not give anything at all." Addressing me, 
she said: "You can prepare some pieces of jade, 
in case I need them. Put them in a nice box 
and have them all ready. Don't bring them to 
me until I ask for them." She said: "We have 
talked enough now, and you can all go to 
rest." We courtesied good night. I was only 
too glad to go to my own room. 

The next morning everything went on very 
nicely and there was no trouble at all. Her 
Majesty was well satisfied, for we had all taken 
great care in fixing ourselves up. She said to 
me: "You never put enough paint on your face. 
People might take you for a widow. You will 



THE EMPRESS AND MRS. CONGER 193 

have to paint your lips, as that is the custom. 
I don't need you yet, so go back and put some 
more paint on." So I went back to my room 
and painted myself just like the rest of them, 
but I could not help laughing at seeing myself 
so changed. By the time I got to her room 
again, she said: "Now you look all right. If 
you think that powder is expensive, I will buy 
some for you." She said that with a laugh, for 
she always liked to tease me. 

By the time Her Majesty had finished her 
toilet, one of the ladies brought a number of 
gowns for her to select one from. She said she 
would wear pale blue that day. She looked over 
twenty or thirty gowns, but found nothing which 
suited her, so she gave orders for some more to 
be brought in. Finally she chose a blue gown 
embroidered with one hundred butterflies, and 
wore a purple sleeveless jacket, which was also 
embroidered with butterflies. At the bottom 
of this gown were pearl tassels. She wore 
her largest pearls, one of which was almost as 
large as an egg, and was her favorite jewel. 
She only wore this on special occasions. She 
wore two jade butterflies on each side of her 
headdress. Her bracelets and rings were also 
all designed in butterflies, in fact everything 
matched. Among her beautiful jewels, she al- 
ways wore some kind of fresh flowers. White 



194 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

jessamine was her favorite flower. The Young 
Empress and the Court ladies were not allowed 
to wear fresh flowers at all unless given to them 
by Her Majesty as a special favor. We could 
wear pearls and jade, etc., but she said that the 
fresh flowers were for her, her idea being that we 
were too young, and might spoil fresh flowers if 
we wore them. After she was dressed we went 
into the Audience Hall. She ordered her cards 
to be brought in as she wanted to play solitaire. 
She talked all the time she was playing, and said 
that we must all be very nice and polite to the 
American ladies, and show them everywhere. 
She said: "It doesn't matter now, for we have 
everything changed." She said : "I want to laugh 
myself. What is the use of changing every- 
thing? They will imagine we are always like 
this. By and bye, if they question you about 
anything, just tell them that it is not so, and 
that we change everything at each audience, just 
to give them a bit of surprise. You must tell 
it some day, otherwise no one will know it at all, 
and the trouble would not be worth the while." 
It was a private audience for ladies, and Her 
Majesty did not use the big throne, but was sit- 
ting on her little throne at the left side of the 
Audience Hall, where she received her own Min- 
isters every morning; the Emperor was stand- 
ing. A eunuch came in, the same as the day 



THE EMPRESS AND MRS. CONGER 195 

before, and announced that the ladies had ar- 
rived at the Palace Gate, nine in all. Her 
Majesty sent some of the Court ladies to meet 
them in the courtyard, and bring them to the 
Audience Hall, which they did. I was standing 
at the right side of Her Majesty's chair, and 
could see them mounting the steps. Her 
Majesty whispered to me, and asked: "Which 
one is Mrs. Evans?" As I had never seen the 
lady, I answered that I could not tell, but when 
they got nearer I saw a lady walking with the 
American Minister's wife, and concluded that 
she must be Mrs. Evans, and told Her Majesty. 
As they got nearer. Her Majesty said: "Again 
that missionary lady with Mrs. Conger. I think 
she must like to see me. She comes every time. 
I will tell her I am very glad to see her always, 
and see if she understands what I mean." 

Mrs. Conger shook hands with Her Majesty 
and presented Mrs. Evans and also the wives 
of the American officers. I was watching Her 
Majesty and saw that she was very nice and 
amiable, with such a pleasant smile — so different 
from her everyday manner. She told them she 
was delighted to see them. Her Majesty 
ordered the eunuchs to have chairs brought in 
for the ladies, and at the same time other eunuchs 
brought in tea. Her Majesty asked Mrs. Evans 
whether she liked China; what she thought of 



196 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

Peking; how long she had been there; how long 
she was going to stay, and where she was stay- 
ing. I was so accustomed to Her Majesty's 
questions that I knew exactly what she would 
ask. Mrs. Conger told her interpreter to tell 
Her Majesty that she had not seen her for such 
a long time, and enquired about Her Majesty's 
health. Her Majesty said to me : "You tell Mrs. 
Conger that I am in good health and that I am 
delighted to see her. It is a pity that I cannot 
hold an audience more frequently, otherwise I 
could see more of her." She continued: "The 
Imperial Princess (her adopted daughter — 
daughter of Prince Kung) will accompany them 
to lunch." This ended the audience. 

Lunch was served at the back of her own Pal- 
ace building (Yang Yuen Hsuen — ^the place 
where the clouds gather to rest) . This room was 
specially furnished as a banqueting room where 
refreshments could be served. All the Court 
ladies went to the lunch, except Her Majesty, 
the Young Empress and the Secondary wife. It 
had taken me two hours to fix the table for the 
luncheon. Her Majesty ordered that a white 
foreign tablecloth should be used, as it looked 
cleaner. The eunuch gardeners had decorated 
the table with fresh flowers, and Her Majesty 
gave instructions as to how the seats were to be 
placed. She said: "Mrs. Evans is the guest of 



THE EMPRESS AND MRS. CONGER 197 

honor. Although Mrs. Conger is the wife of the 
American Minister, she is more of a resident, so 
Mrs. Evans must have the principal seat." She 
also told me to arrange to seat everybody accord- 
ing to their respective ranks. The Imperial 
Princess and Princess Shun (Her Majesty's 
niece, sister of the Young Empress) were host- 
esses, and were to sit opposite each other. We 
placed golden menu holders and little gold plates 
for almonds and watermelon seeds; the rest all 
silver ware, including chopsticks. Her Majesty 
ordered that foreign knives and forks should be 
provided also. The food was served in Manchu 
style, and was composed of twenty-four courses, 
besides sweetmeats — candies and fruits. Her 
Majesty instructed us that only the best cham- 
pagne was to be served. She said: "I know that 
foreign ladies love to drink." 

I think I was the only one who was really 
happy to meet these ladies, rdore so than the rest 
of the Court ladies, the reason being that Her 
Majesty lectured them too severely, telling them 
how to behave, so that they had grown to hate 
the very mention of a foreign audience. While 
we were eating, a eunuch came in and told me 
that Her Majesty was waiting at her private 
Palace, and that I should bring these ladies there 
after the lunch was over. So when we had fin- 
ished we entered her own Palace and found her 



198 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

waiting there for us. She got up and told me to 
ask Mrs. Evans whether she had had anything 
to eat — that the food was not very good. ( This 
is a custom with the Chinese when entertaining, 
always to underrate the food. ) She said that she 
would like to show Mrs. Evans her private apart- 
ments, so that she could form some idea of the 
way we lived, so she took Mrs. Evans to one of 
her bedrooms. She invited Mrs. Evans and Mrs. 
Conger to sit down, and the eunuchs brought in 
tea, as usual. Her Majesty asked Mrs. Evans 
to stay a little while in Peking, and to visit the 
different temples. She said: "Our country, 
although very old, has not such fine buildings as 
there are in America. I suppose you wiU find 
everything very strange. I am rather too old 
now, otherwise I would like to travel around the 
world. I have read much about different coun- 
tries, but of course there is nothing like visiting 
the different places and seeing them yourself. 
However, one cannot tell. I may be able to go 
after all, by and bye, but I am afraid to leave my 
own country. By the time I returned I should 
not know the place any more, I'm afraid. Here 
everything seems to depend on me. Our Em- 
peror is quite young." 

She then turned and ordered us to take these 
ladies to visit the different buildings of the Pal- 
ace, also the famous temple of the King of 



THE EMPRESS AND MRS. CONGER 199 

Dragons. This is on a little island in the center 
of the lake of the Summer Palace. Mrs. Con- 
ger said that she had something to ask Her 
Majesty, and told the Missionary lady to pro- 
ceed. While Mrs. Conger was speaking to this 
lady Her Majesty became rather impatient as 
she wanted to know what they were talking 
about, so she asked me. It was very hard for 
me to listen to both of the ladies and to Her 
Majesty at the same time. The only words I 
heard were: "The portrait," so I guessed the 
rest. Before I had a chance to tell Her Majesty 
this Missionary lady said: "Mrs. Conger has 
come with the special object of asking permission 
to have Her Majesty's portrait painted by an 
American lady artist, Miss Carl, as she is desirous 
of sending it to the St. Louis Exhibition, in order 
that the American people may form some idea 
of what a beautiful lady the Empress Dowager 
of China is." Miss Carl is the sister of Mr. F. 
Carl who was for so many years Commissioner of 
Customs in Chefoo. 

Her Majesty looked surprised, for she had 
been listening very carefully whilst this lady was 
talking. She did not like to say that she did not 
quite understand, so she turned to me, as had 
been previously arranged, — a sign for me to in- 
terpret. I did not, however, do so immediately, 
so Mrs. Conger told her missionary friend to 



200 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

repeat the request in case Her Majesty had not 
quite understood it. Her Majesty then said to 
me: "I cannot quite understand what this lady 
says. I think perhaps you can tell me better." 
So I explained everything, but I knew that Her 
Majesty did not know what a portrait was like, 
as, up to that time she had never even had a 
photograph taken of herself. 

I must here explain that in China a portrait is 
only painted after death, in memorium of the 
deceased, in order that the following generations 
may worship the deceased. I noticed that Her 
Majesty was somewhat shocked when the request 
was made known to her. I did not want Her 
Majesty to appear ignorant before these foreign 
ladies, so I pulled her sleeve and told her that I 
would explain everything to her later. She re- 
plied: "Explain a little to me now." This was 
spoken in the Court language, which the visitors 
were unable to understand, it being somewhat dif- 
ferent from the ordinary Chinese language. This 
enabled Her Majesty to form some idea of the 
conversation, so she thanked Mrs. Conger for her 
kind thought, and promised to give her answer 
later. She said to me: "Tell Mrs. Conger that 
I cannot decide anything alone, as she is prob- 
ably aware that I have to consult with my Min- 
isters before deciding anything of an important 
character. Tell her that I have to be very care- 



THE EMPRESS AND MRS. CONGER 201 

fill not to do anything which would give my 
people an opportunity to criticize my actions. 
I have to adhere to the rules and customs of my 
ancestors." I noticed that Her Majesty did not 
seem inclined to discuss the subject further at the 
moment. 

Just then the head eunuch came in and, kneel- 
ing down, informed Her Majesty that the boats 
for the ladies were ready to take them across the 
lake, to see the temple. This action on the part 
of the eunuch was owing to his having received a 
signal from one of the Court ladies, which im- 
plied that Her Majesty was getting tired of the 
conversation, and wished to change the subject. 
I must explain that on every occasion when a 
foreign audience was taking place, one of the 
Court ladies was always told off to watch Her 
Majesty, and whenever she appeared to be dis- 
pleased or tired of any particular subject under 
discussion, she, the Court lady, would give the 
signal to the head eunuch, who would break in 
upon the conversation in the above manner, and 
thus save the situation from becoming embarrass- 
ing. So Her Majesty said good-bye to the 
ladies, as she thought it would be too late for 
them to have to return to say good-bye, besides 
which it would give them more time to see the 
various sights. 

The ladies then proceeded to the island in the 



202 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

Empress Dowager's pleasure boat known as the 
Imperial barge, previously described, and visited 
the temple. This temple is built on top of a 
small rock, in the center of which is a natural 
cave, and it was generally supposed that no hu- 
man being had ever been inside of this cave. The 
Empress Dowager believed the popular super- 
stition that this hole was the home of the King 
of Dragons — from which the temple derives its 
name. 



CHAPTER THIRTEEN 

THE EMPRESS'S PORTRAIT 

After staying a Kttle while at the temple, we 
returned to the Palace, and the ladies said good- 
bye and took chairs to the Palace gate, where 
their own chairs were waiting for them. I then 
went to report to Her Majesty in the usual way 
what had been said by the visitors ; whether they 
had expressed themselves as being pleased with 
the reception they had received. Her Majesty 
said: "I like Mrs. Evans. I think she is a very 
good woman. It seems to me that her manners 
are quite different from those of the other Amer- 
ican ladies whom I have met. I like to meet 
people who are polite." Then, referring to the 
subject of the portrait Her Majesty said: "I 
wonder why Mrs. Conger has this idea. Now 
please explain to me what painting a portrait 
really is." When I explained that it would be 
necessary for her to sit for several hours each day 
she was excited, and afraid she would never have 
the patience to see it through. She asked me 
what she must do during the sitting, so I ex- 
plained that she would simply have to pose for 

203 



g04 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

the portrait, sitting in one position all the time. 
She said: "I shall be an old woman by the time 
the portrait is finished." I told her that I had 
had my own portrait painted during my stay in 
Paris, by the same artist Mrs. Conger had pro- 
posed should paint her own portrait (Miss Carl) . 
She immediately told me to fetch the portrait of 
myself so that she could examine it and see what 
it was like, so I gave the order right away to a 
eunuch who v/as standing by to go to my house 
and bring it. Her Majesty said: "I do not un- 
derstand why I must sit for the portrait. 
Couldn't someone else do it for me." I explained 
to her that as it was her own portrait, and not 
that of somebody else, they wished to paint, it 
would be necessary for her to sit herself. She 
then enquired whether it would be necessary for 
her to wear the same dress at each sitting, also 
the same jewels and ornaments. I replied that 
it would be necessary to do so on each occasion. 
Her Majesty then explained that in China it was 
only necessary for an artist to see his subject 
once, after which he could start right away and 
finish the portrait in a very short time, and 
thought that a really first-class foreign artist 
should be able to do the same. Of course I ex- 
plained the difference between foreign portrait 
painting and Chinese, and told her that when she 
had seen it she would see the difference and un- 



THE EMPRESS'S PORTRAIT 205 

derstand the reason for so many sittings. She 
said: "I wonder what kind of a person this lady 
artist is. Does she speak Chinese ?" I said that 
I knew Miss Carl very well, and that she was a 
very nice lady, but that she didn't speak Chinese. 
She said: "If her brother has been in the Cus- 
toms service for so long, how is it that she doesn't 
speak Chinese also?" I told her that Miss Carl 
had been away from China for a long time; 
that in fact she had only been in China for 
a very short time altogether, most of her work 
being in Europe and America. Her Majesty 
said: "I am glad she doesn't understand Chinese. 
The only objection about this portrait painting is 
that I have to have a foreigner at the Palace all 
the time. With my own people gossiping they 
might tell her things which I don't want anyone 
to know." I told her that would be impossible 
as Miss Carl did not understand Chinese at all, 
neither did any of the people at Court under- 
stand English, with the exception of ourselves 
(my mother, sister and myself). Her Majesty 
answered : "You must not rely too much on that, 
as after spending a short time at the Court they 
will soon learn to understand each other." Con- 
tinuing, she said: "By the way, how long will it 
take before this portrait is finished?" I told her 
that it depended entirely upon how often she sat, 
and how long each time. I didn't like to tell 



206 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

her exactly how long it would take, as I was 
afraid she might consider it too much bother, so 
I said that when the artist arrived I would tell 
her to get along and finish the portrait as quickly 
as possible. 

Her Majesty said: "I don't see how I can very 
well refuse Mrs. Conger's request. Of course 
I told her, as you know, that I would have to 
consult with my Ministers, just to give me time 
to think the matter over. If you know all about 
this artist lady, and think she is quite all right 
to come here to the Palace, of course she may 
come, and I will tell Prince Ching to reply to 
Mrs. Conger to that effect. First of all we must 
talk over what we are going to do, for to have a 
foreign lady staying in the Palace is out of the 
question altogether. As a rule I always spend 
the summer at my Summer Palace, and it is so 
far from the city that I don't think she will be 
able to go to and from the Palace every day, on 
account of the distance. Now, where can we 
put her? Someone will have to watch her all 
the time. This is such a difficult matter that I 
hardly know what to decide upon. How would 
you like to look after her? Do you think you 
could manage it in such a way that no one at the 
Palace will have a chance to talk with her during 
the daytime, but who is going to stay and watch 
her during the night?" Her Majesty walked up 



THE EMPRESS'S PORTRAIT 207 

and down the room thinking it over for quite a 
while. Finally she smiled and said: "I have it. 
We can treat her as a prisoner without her know- 
ing it, but it will all depend on your mother, your 
sister and yourself to act for me in this matter. 
Each of you will have to play your part very 
carefully, and I mine also. I will give orders 
to have the Palace Garden of Prince Chung 
(the Emperor Kwang Hsu's father) fixed up 
for Miss Carl during her stay here." 

This Palace garden is quite close to Her Maj- 
esty's own Palace, about ten minutes' drive. It 
is not in the Palace ground, but is quite a sepa- 
rate Palace outside the Summer Palace. 

Continuing, Her Majesty said: "Now, you 
will have to come with her every morning and 
return to stay with her every night. I think this 
is the safest way out of the difficulty, but be care- 
ful with regard to all correspondence which she 
may either receive or send away. The only 
thing about it is that it will give you a lot of 
extra work, but you know how particular I am 
over things of this kind, and it will save a lot of 
trouble in the end. There is another thing 
you will have to be very careful about, and that 
is to watch that Miss Carl has no chance to 
talk with the Emperor. The reason why I 
say this is because, as you know, the Emperor 
is of a shy disposition, and might say something 



208 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

which would offend her. I will appoint four 
extra eunuchs to be in attendance during the sit- 
tings for the portrait, so that they will be on 
hand in case anything is wanted." Her Maj- 
esty then said : "I noticed that Mrs. Conger was 
watching you when you pulled my sleeve. I 
wonder what she thought of it. You needn't 
care, anyway. Let her think anything she likes. 
I understood what you meant if Mrs. Conger 
didn't, and that is all that is necessary." I told 
her that perhaps Mrs. Conger thought I wanted 
to advise her to refuse this request, but Her 
Majesty said: "What does that matter? If it 
hadn't been that you know the artist yourself I 
would not have consented in any case. It is not 
the painting of the portrait that I mind, but it 
might give rise to serious results." 

The next morning I received a letter from 
Mrs. Conger begging me not to prejudice Her 
Majesty against Miss Carl in any way. I trans- 
lated this to Her Majesty, and it made her furi- 
ous. She said: "No one has any right to write 
to you in such a way. How dare she suggest 
that you would say anything against Miss Carl? 
Didn't I tell you she was watching you when 
you pulled my sleeve? When you reply to that 
letter tell her whatever you like, but answer in 
the same way she writes herself, or, better still, 
you write and inform her that it is not cus- 



THE EMPRESS'S PORTRAIT 209 

tomary for any Court lady to try and influence 
Her Majesty in this country, and that in addi- 
tion, you are not so mean as to say anything 
against anybody. If you don't like to say that, 
just say that as Miss Carl is a personal friend 
of yours you certainly would never think of say- 
ing anything against her." 

I therefore replied to Mrs. Conger's letter in 
the ordinary way, making it as formal as pos- 
sible. 

Her Majesty then talked of nothing but the 
portrait during the whole of that afternoon. By 
and bye she said : "I hope that Mrs. Conger will 
not send a missionary lady with Miss Carl to 
keep her company during her stay at the Palace. 
If she does I will certainly refuse to sit. The 
next morning the eunuch arrived with my por- 
trait, and everyone at the Court had a 
good look at it before I took it to show 
to Her Majesty. Some of them were of the 
opinion that it was very much like me, 
while the others thought the painting a 
very poor one. When I informed Her Majesty 
of the arrival of the portrait she ordered that it 
should be brought into her bedroom immediately. 
She scrutinized it very carefully for a while, even 
touching the painting in her curiosity. Finally 
she burst out laughing and said : "What a funny 
painting this is, it looks as though it had been 



glO TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

painted with oil." (Of course it was an oil 
painting.) "Such rough work I never saw in all 
my life. The picture itself is marvellously like 
you, and I do not hesitate to say that none of 
our Chinese painters could get the expression 
which appears on this picture. What a funny 
dress you are wearing in this picture. Why are 
your arms and neck all bare? I have heard that 
foreign ladies wear their dresses without sleeves 
and without collars, but I had no idea that it 
was so bad and ugly as the dress you are wearing 
here. I cannot imagine how you could do it. I 
should have thought you would have been 
ashamed to expose yourself in that manner. 
Don't wear any more such dresses, please. It 
has quite shocked me. What a funny kind of 
civilization this is to be sure. Is this dress only 
worn on certain occasions, or is it worn any time, 
even when gentlemen are present?" I explained 
to her that it was the usual evening dress for 
ladies and was worn at dinners, balls, receptions, 
etc. Her Majesty laughed and exclaimed: 
"This is getting worse and worse. Everything 
seems to go backwards in foreign countries. 
Here we don't even expose our wrists when in 
the company of gentlemen, but foreigners seem 
to have quite different ideas on the subject. 
The Emperor is always talking about reform, 
but if this is a sample we had much better remain 



THE EMPRESS'S PORTRAIT 211 

as we are. Tell me, have you yet changed your 
opinion with regard to foreign customs? Don't 
you think that our own customs are much nicer?" 
Of course I was obliged to say "yes" seeing that 
she herself was so prejudiced. She again exam- 
ined the portrait and said: "Why is it that one 
side of your face is painted white and the other 
black? This is not natural — your face is not 
black. Half of your neck is painted black, too. 
How is it?" I explained that it was simply the 
shading and was painted exactly as the artist saw 
me from the position in which she was sitting. 
Her Majesty then enquired: "Do you think that 
this Artist lady will paint my picture to look 
black also? It is going to America, and I don't 
want the people over there to imagine that half 
of my face is white and half black." I didn't 
like to tell her the truth, that her portrait would 
in all probability be painted the same as mine, so 
I promised Her Majesty that I would tell the 
artist exactly how she wished to be painted. She 
then asked me if I knew when the artist pro- 
posed commencing the portrait. I told her that 
the artist was still in Shanghai, but that Mrs. 
Conger had already written to her to come up to 
Peking, to make the necessary preparations. 
One week later I received a letter from Miss 
Carl informing me that she proposed coming up 
to Peking at once, and that she would be de- 



2ia TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

lighted if Her Majesty would allow her to paint 
this portrait. I translated the letter to Her Maj - 
esty, who said: "I am very glad that you know 
this lady personally. It will make it much easier 
for me. You know there may be some things 
which I may want to tell Miss Carl, but which I 
don't want Mrs. Conger to know. I mean that 
there might be certain things which I shall have 
to say to Miss Carl, which, if Mrs. Conger heard 
of them, would give her the impression that I was 
very difficult to please. You understand what 
I mean. As this lady is a friend of yours, you 
will of course be able to tell her things in such 
a manner as not to offend her, and I may tell 
you again that if it were not that she is a per- 
sonal friend of your own I would not have her 
here at all, as it is quite contrary to our custom." 
On the third day of the second-fifth moon 
Prince Ching informed Her Majesty that the 
artist had arrived at Peking and was staying 
with Mrs. Conger and wished to know Her Maj- 
esty's pleasure in regard to commencing the 
portrait. Now I must explain that the Chinese 
year varies as to the number of moons it contains. 
For example, one year contains the ordinary 
twelve months or moons. The following year 
may contain thirteen moons. Then the two years 
following that may contain twelve moons only, 
and thirteen moons the next year, and so on. At 



THE EMPRESS'S PORTRAIT 213 

the time of the proposed visit of the artist the 
Chinese year contained thirteen moons, there 
being two fifth moons in that year. When 
Prince Ching asked Her Majesty to name the 
day on which Miss Carl should commence her 
work, she replied: "I will give her my answer 
to-morrow. I must first consult my book, as I 
don't want to start this portrait on an unlucky 
day." So the next day, after her usual morning 
audience Her Majesty consulted this book for 
quite a time. Finally she said to me: "Accord- 
ing to my book the next lucky day will not occur 
for another ten days or so," and handed me the 
book to look myself. Eventually she picked out 
the twentieth day of the second-fifth moon as 
the most lucky day for beginning the work. 
Next she had to consult the book again in order 
to fix on the exact hour, finally fixing on 7 
o'clock in the evening. I was very much wor- 
ried when she told me that, as by that time it 
would be quite dark, so I explained to Her Maj- 
esty as nicely as I could that it would be impos- 
sible for Miss Carl to work at that hour of the 
day. Her Majesty replied: "Well, we have 
electric lights here. Surely that would be suffi- 
cient light for her." Then I had to explain that 
it would not be possible to get such good results 
by means of artificial light as if it were painted 
during the daytime. You see I was anxious to 



214< TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

get her to change the hour, as I was sure that 
Miss Carl would refuse to paint by means of 
electric light. Her Majesty replied: "What a 
bother. I can paint pictures myself in any kind 
of light, and she ought to be able to do the same." 
After much discussion it was finally settled that 
10 o'clock on the morning of the twentieth day 
of the second-fifth moon should be the time for 
Miss Carl to commence to paint this portrait, and 
I can assure you that I felt very much relieved 
when it was all settled. When the eunuch 
brought in my portrait, he also brought in sev- 
eral photographs which I had had taken during 
my stay in Paris, but I decided not to show them 
to Her Majesty in case she should decide to have 
a photograph taken instead of having this portrait 
painted, as it would be much quicker and save 
her the trouble of sitting each day. However, as 
Her Majesty was passing on the veranda in 
front of my bedroom the next morning she 
stepped into the room just to have a look around 
and, as she put it, to see whether I kept every- 
thing clean, and in good order. This was the 
first time she had visited me in my own room, 
and I was naturally very much embarrassed, as 
she very rarely visited the rooms of her Court 
ladies. I could not keep her standing, and I 
could not ask her to sit down in any of my own 
chairs, as it is the Chinese custom that the Em- 



THE EMPRESS'S PORTRAIT 215 

peror and Empress should only sit down in their 
own special chairs, which are usually carried by 
an attendant wherever they go. I therefore was 
on the point of giving an order for her own stool 
to be brought in, when Her Majesty stopped 
me and said that she would sit on one of the 
chairs in the room, and so bring me good luck. 
So she sat down in an easy chair. A eunuch 
brought in her tea, which I handed to her myself 
instead of letting the eunuch wait upon her. 
This of course was Court etiquette, and was also 
a sign of respect. 

After she had finished her tea, she got up and 
went around the room, examining everything, 
opening up all my bureau drawers and boxes in 
order to see whether I kept my things in proper 
order. Happening to glance into one corner of 
the room she exclaimed: "What are those pic- 
tures on the table over there," and walked across 
to examine them. As soon as she picked them 
up, she exclaimed in much surprise: "Why, they 
are all photographs of yourself, and are very 
much better than the picture you had painted. 
They are more like you. Why didn't you show 
them to me before?" I hardly knew what to an- 
swer, and when she saw that I was very much em- 
barrassed by her question, she immediately 
started talking about something else. She often 
acted in this manner when she saw that any of us 



216 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

were not quite prepared for any of her questions, 
but she would be sure to reopen the subject at 
some future time, when we were expected to give 
a direct answer. 

After examining the photographs for some- 
time, which by the way, were all taken in Euro- 
pean dress. Her Majesty said: "Now these are 
good photographs ; much better than the portrait 
you had painted. Still I have given my prom- 
ise, and I suppose I shall have to keep it. How- 
ever, if I do have my photograph taken, it will 
not interfere at all with the painting of the por- 
trait. The only trouble is I cannot ask an ordi- 
nary professional photographer to the Palace. 
It would hardly be the thing." 

My mother thereupon explained to Her Maj- 
esty that if she desired to have her photograph 
taken, one of my brothers, who had studied pho- 
tography for some considerable time, would be 
able to do all that was necessary. 

I would like to explain that I had two brothers 
at Court at that time, who held appointments 
under the Empress Dowager. One was in 
charge of all the electrical installation at the 
Summer Palace, and the other, her private 
steam launch. It was the custom for all the 
sons of the Manchu officials to hold certain 
positions at the Court for two or three years. 
They were perfectly free to walk about the 



THE EMPRESS'S PORTRAIT 217 

grounds of the Palace, and saw Her Majesty 
daily. Her Majesty was always very kind to 
these young men, and chatted with them in quite 
a motherly way. These young fellows had to 
come to the Palace each morning very early, but 
as no man was allowed to stay all night in the 
Palace they of course had to leave when they 
had finished their duties for the day. 

When Her Majesty heard what my mother 
said, she was very much surprised, and asked 
why she had never been told that my brother 
was learned in photography. My mother replied 
that she had no idea that Her Majesty wished to 
have a photograph taken, and had not dared to 
suggest such a thing herself. Her Maj- 
esty laughed, and said: "You may suggest any- 
thing you like, as I want to try anything that is 
new to me, especially as outsiders can know 
nothing about it." She gave orders to send for 
my brother at once. On his arrival Her Maj- 
esty said to him: "I hear that you are a photog- 
rapher. I am going to give you something to 
do." My brother was kneeling, as was the cus- 
tom of the Court, whilst Her Majesty was 
addressing him. Everybody, with the exception 
of the Court ladies, had to kneel when she was 
speaking to them. Even the Emperor himself 
was no exception to this rule. Of course the 
Court ladies, being constantly in attendance. 



218 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

were allowed not to kneel, as Her Majesty was 
talking to us all the time, and it was her orders 
that we should not do so, as it would be wasting 
a lot of time. 

Her Majesty asked my brother when he would 
be able to come and take her photograph, and 
what kind of weather was necessary. My 
brother said that he would go back to Peking 
that night, to fetch his camera, and that he could 
take the photograph at any time she desired, as 
the weather would not affect the work. So Her 
Majesty decided to have her photograph taken 
the next morning. She said: "I want to have 
one taken first of all in my chair, when going to 
the audience, and you can take some others after- 
wards." She also asked my brother how long 
she would have to sit, and was surprised to learn 
that only a few seconds would suffice. Next 
she enquired how long it would be before it was 
finished, so that she could see it. My brother 
answered that if it were taken in the morning 
it could be finished late the same afternoon. Her 
Majesty said that was delightful, and expressed 
a wish to watch him do the work. She told my 
brother that he might select any room in the Pal- 
ace to work in, and ordered a eunuch to make 
the necessary preparations. 

The next day was a beautiful day, and at eight 
o'clock my brother was waiting in the courtyard 



THE EMPRESS'S PORTRAIT 219 

with several cameras. Her Majesty went to the 
courtyard and examined each of them. She 
said: "How funny it is that you can take a per- 
son's picture with a thing Hke that." After the 
method of taking the photograph had been fully 
explained to her, she commanded one of the 
eunuchs to stand in front of the camera so that 
she might look through the focusing glass, to 
see what it was like. Her Majesty exclaimed: 
"Why is it your head is upside down? Are you 
standing on your head or feet?" So we ex- 
plained when the photo was taken it would not 
look that way. She was delighted with the re- 
sult of her observations, and said that it was 
marvellous. Finally she told me to go and 
stand there, as she wanted to have a look at me 
through this glass also. She then exchanged 
places with me, and desired that I should look 
through the glass and see if I could make out 
what she was doing. She waved her hand in 
front of the camera, and on my telling her of it, 
she was pleased. 

She then entered her chair, and ordered the 
bearers to proceed. My brother took another 
photograph of Her Majesty in the procession as 
she passed the camera. After she had passed the 
camera she turned and asked my brother: "Did 
you take a picture?" and on my brother answer- 
ing that he had. Her Majesty said: "Why didn't 



220 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

you tell me? I was looking too serious. Next 
time when you are going to take one, let me 
know so that I may try and look pleasant." 

I knew that Her Majesty was very much 
pleased. While we were at the back of the 
screen during the audience, I noticed that she 
seemed anxious to get it over, in order to have 
some more photographs taken. It only took 
about twenty minutes to get that particular au- 
dience over, which was very rare. 

After the people had gone, we came from be- 
hind the screen and Her Majesty said: "Let 
us go and have some more pictures taken while 
the weather is fine." So she walked the court- 
yard of the Audience Hall, where my brother 
had a camera ready, and had another photo- 
graph taken. She said that she would like to 
have some taken sitting on her throne, exactly 
as though she were holding an audience. It 
took us only a few minutes to have everything 
prepared in the courtyard. The screen was 
placed behind the throne, and her footstool was 
also placed ready for her, and she ordered one 
of the Court ladies to go and bring several gowns 
for her to select from. At the same time I went 
and brought some of her favorite jewelry. She 
ordered the two gowns which she had worn at 
the audiences when she received Admiral Evans 
and Mrs. Evans, to be brought in, and also the 




The writer assisting Her Imperial Majesty, the Empress 

Dowager of China, going down Peony Hill toward 

her Palace 



THE EMPRESS'S PORTRAIT ^21 

same jewels as she had worn on those respective 
occasions. She had two photographs taken in 
these costumes, one in each dress. Next she 
wanted one taken in a plain gown, without any 
embroidery. She then ordered my brother to 
go and finish the pictures which had already been 
taken, as she was anxious to see what they were 
like. She said to my brother: "You wait a min- 
ute, I want to go with you and see how you work 
on them." Of course, I had not considered it 
necessary to explain to Her Majesty the process 
of developing the pictures, the dark room, etc., 
so I explained to her as well as I could the whole 
thing. Her Majesty replied: "It doesn't mat- 
ter. I want to go and see the room, no matter 
what kind of a room it is." So we all adjourned 
to the dark room in order to see my brother work 
on the photographs. We placed a chair so that 
Her Majesty could sit down. She said to my 
brother: "You must forget that I am here, and 
go along with your work just as usual." She 
watched for a while, and was very pleased when 
she saw that the plates were developing so 
quickly. My brother held up the plate to the 
red light, to enable her to see more distinctly. 
Her Majesty said: "It is not very clear. I can 
see that it is myself all right, but why is it that 
my face and hands are dark?" We explained 
to her that when the picture was printed on 



22^ TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

paper, these dark spots would show white, and 
the white parts would be dark. She said: 
"Well, one is never too old to learn. This is 
something really new to me. I am not sorry 
that I suggested having my photograph taken, 
and only hope that I shall like the portrait paint- 
ing as well." She said to my brother: "Don't 
finish these photographs until after I have had 
my afternoon rest. I want to see you do it." 
When she got up at about half -past three, it did 
not take her long to dress herself, as was her 
usual custom, and she went immediately to where 
my brother had the papers and everything pre- 
pared. He then showed Her Majesty how the 
printing was done. There was plenty of light, 
as it was summer time, and as it was only four 
o'clock in the afternoon, the sun was still high. 
Her Majesty watched for two hours while my 
brother was printing, and was delighted to see 
each picture come out quite plainly. She held 
the first one in her hands so long while exam- 
ining the others, that when she came to look at 
it again, she found that it had turned quite black. 
She could not understand this at all, and ex- 
claimed: "Why has this gone black? Is it bad 
luck?" We explained to her that it must be 
washed after printing, otherwise a strong light 
would cause the picture to fade, as this one had 



THE EMPRESS'S PORTRAIT 223 

done. She said: "How very interesting, and 
what a lot of work there is." 

After the printing process had been finished, 
my brother placed the pictures in a chemical 
bath, as usual, finally washing them in clean 
water. This caused Her Majesty even more sur- 
prise when she saw how clear the pictures came 
out, and caused her to exclaim: "How extraor- 
dinary. Everything is quite true to life." 
When they were finally completed, she took the 
whole of them to her own room and sat down on 
her little throne, and gazed at them for a long 
time. She even took her mirror in order to com- 
pare her reflection with the photographs just 
taken. 

All this time my brother was standing in the 
courtyard awaiting Her Majesty's further com- 
mands. Suddenly she recollected this fact, and 
said: "Why, I had forgotten all about your 
brother. The poor fellow must be still standing 
waiting to know what I want next. You go 
and tell him — no, I had better go and speak 
to him myself. He has worked so hard all the 
day, that I want to say something to make him 
feel happy." She ordered my brother to print 
ten copies of each of the photographs, and to 
leave all his cameras at the Palace, in order that 
he could proceed with the work the next day. 

The following ten days it rained contin- 



224) TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

ually, which made Her Majesty very impatient, 
as it was impossible to take any more photo- 
graphs until the weather improved. Her 
Majesty wanted to have some taken in the 
Throne Room, but this room was too dark, the 
upper windows being pasted over with thick 
paper, only the lower windows allowing the light 
to enter. My brother tried several times, but 
failed to get a good picture. 

During this rainy period the Court was moved 
to the Sea Palace, as the Emperor was to sacrifice 
at the Temple of Earth. This was a yearly cere- 
mony and was carried out on similar lines to all 
other annual ceremonies. On account of the 
rain Her Majesty ordered that boats should be 
brought alongside the west shore of the Summer 
Palace. On entering the boats, Her Majesty, 
accompanied by the Court, proceeded to the 
Western Gate of the city, and on arrival at the 
last bridge, disembarked. Chairs were awaiting 
us and we rode to the gate of the Sea Palace. 
There we again entered the boats and proceeded 
across the lake, a distance of about a mile. 
While crossing the lake Her Majesty noticed a 
lot of lotus plants which were in full bloom. She 
said: "We are going to stay at least three days 
here. I hope the weather will be fine, as I 
should like to have some photographs taken in 
the open boats on the lake. I have also another 



THE EMPRESS'S PORTRAIT S25 

good idea, and that is, I want to have one taken 
as 'Kuan Yin' (Goddess of Mersy). The two 
chief eunuchs will be dressed as attendants. The 
necessary gowns were made some time ago, and 
I occasionally put them on. Whenever I have 
been angry, or worried over anything, by dress- 
ing up as the Goddess of Mercy it helps me to 
calm myself, and so play the part I represent. I 
can assure you that it does help me a great deal, 
as it makes me remember that I am looked upon 
as being all-merciful. By having a photograph 
taken of myself dressed in this costume, I shall 
be able to see myself as I ought to be at all times." 
When we arrived at the private Palace the 
rain ceased. We walked to her bedroom, 
although the ground was still in bad condition. 
One of Her Majesty's peculiarities was a desire 
to go out in the rain and walk about. She would 
not even use an umbrella unless it was raining 
very heavily. The eunuchs always carried our 
umbrellas, but if Her Majesty did not use her 
umbrella, of course we could not very well use 
ours. The same thing applied in everything. 
If Her Majesty wanted to walk, we had to walk 
also, and if she decided to ride in her chair, we 
had to get into our chairs and ride as well. The 
only exception to this rule was when Her Maj- 
esty, being tired walking, ordered her stool to 
rest on. We were not allowed to sit in her pres- 



2,^6 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

ence, but had to stand all the time. Her Maj- 
esty liked her Sea Palace better than her Palace 
in the Forbidden City. It was far prettier, and 
had the effect of making her good tempered. 

Her Majesty ordered us to retire early that 
day, as we were all very tired after the trip, and 
said that in the event of it being fine the next 
day, she would have the proposed photographs 
taken. However, much to Her Majesty's dis- 
appointment, it rained incessantly for the next 
three days, so it was decided to stay a few days 
longer. On the last day of our stay it cleared 
up sufficiently to enable the photographs to be 
taken, after which we all returned to the Sum- 
mer Palace. 

The day after our arrival at the Summer Pal- 
ace Her Majesty said that we had better prepare 
everything for the audience to receive the lady 
artist (Miss Carl). She told the chief eunuch 
to issue orders to all the other eunuchs not to 
speak to Miss Carl, but simply be polite as occa- 
sion required. We Court ladies received similar 
orders. Also, that we were not to address Her 
Majesty while Miss Carl was present. The 
Emperor received similar instructions. Her 
Majesty gave orders to have the Gardens of 
Prince Chung's Palace ready. She then said to 
us: "I trust you three to look after this lady 
artist. I have already given orders for food 



THE EMPRESS'S PORTRAIT 227 

to be supplied by the Wai Wu Pu. The only 
thing that I have been worried about is that I 
have no foreign food here for Miss Carl." She 
ordered us to have our stove taken over to Prince 
Chung's Palace in case Miss Carl desired some- 
thing cooked. She said : "I know it will be very 
hard for you to take her to the Palace each morn- 
ing and return with her at night, besides having to 
watch her all day long, but I know you do not 
mind. You are doing all this for me." After 
a while she smiled, and said: "How selfish of 
me. I order you to bring all your things to this 
place, but what is your father going to do ? The 
best thing will be to ask your father to come and 
live in the same place. The country air might 
benefit him." We kowtowed and thanked Her 
Majesty, as this was a special favor, no official 
nor anyone else having been allowed to live in 
Prince Chung's Palace previously. We all were 
very pleased — I could now see my father every 
day. Hitherto we had only been able to see 
him about once a month, and then only by asking 
special leave. 

The next day Her Majesty sent us to Prince 
Chung's Palace to make all necessary arrange- 
ments for Miss Carl's stay. 

This Palace of Prince Chung's was a magnifi- 
cent place. All the smaller dwellings were quite 
separate from each other, not in one large build- 



g28 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

ing, as was the custom. There was a small lake 
in the grounds, and lovely little paths to walk 
along, exactly like the Empress Dowager's Sum- 
mer Palace, but, of course, on a much smaller 
scale. We selected one of these small dwellings, 
or summer houses, for the use of Miss Carl 
during her stay, and had it fitted up nicely, to 
make her as comfortable as possible. We our- 
selves were to occupy the next house to Miss 
Carl, in order that we might always be on 
hand, and at the same time keep a good eye on 
her. We returned to the Summer Palace the 
same evening, and told Her Majesty just how 
everything had been arranged. She said: "I 
want you all to be very careful not to let this 
lady know that you are watching her." She 
seemed very anxious about this, repeating these 
instructions for several days prior to Miss Carl's 
arrival. 

I felt very much relieved when the day before 
the audience arrived, and everything was finally 
fixed to Her Majesty's satisfaction. She 
ordered us to retire early that evening, as she 
wanted to rest and look well the next morning. 
When morning came we hurried over every- 
thing, even the usual morning audience, so that 
we could be ready when Miss Carl arrived. 

While I was standing behind the screen, as 
usual, a eunuch came and told me that Mrs. 



THE EMPRESS'S PORTRAIT 229 

Conger, the artist, and another lady had arrived, 
and that they were now in the waiting room. By 
that time the audience was about finished. The 
chief eunuch came in and told Her Majesty that 
the foreign ladies had arrived and were waiting 
in another room. Her Majesty said to us: "I 
think I will go to the courtyard and meet them 
there." Of course, at all private audiences Her 
Majesty received the people in the Throne Room, 
but as Miss Carl was more of a guest, she did 
not think it necessary to go through the usual 
formal reception. 

While we were descending the steps we saw 
the ladies entering the gate of the courtyard. I 
pointed out Miss Carl to Her Majesty, and 
noticed that she eyed Miss Carl very keenly. 
When we arrived in the courtyard, Mrs. Conger 
came forward and greeted Her Majesty and 
then presented Miss Carl. Her Majesty's first 
impression of Miss Carl was a good one, as Miss 
Carl was smiling very pleasantly, and Her 
Majesty, who always liked to see a pleasant 
smile, exclaimed to me in an undertone: "She 
seems to be a yevj pleasant person," to which I 
replied that I was very glad she thought so, as I 
was very anxious about the impression Miss Carl 
would make on Her Majesty. Her Majesty 
watched Miss Carl and myself as we greeted 
each other, and I could see that she was satis- 



230 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

fied. She told me afterwards that she had no- 
ticed Miss Carl appeared very glad to see me 
again, and said: "We will handle her pretty 
easily, I think." Her Majesty then went to her 
own private Palace, and we all followed. On 
our arrival. Miss Carl told me that she had 
brought her own canvas. This was a piece about 
six feet by four feet. I had told Miss Carl a 
little previously that Her Majesty refused to sit 
for a very small portrait and that she would like 
a life-size one. When Her Majesty saw the 
canvas she appeared to be very much disap- 
pointed, as in her opinion even that was not large 
enough. We placed the tables ready for Miss 
Carl, and Her Majesty asked her to choose the 
position in which she wished to paint. I knew 
that Miss Carl would have great difficulty in 
choosing a good position on account of the win- 
dows being built so low, there being very lit- 
tle light except low down near the ground. 
However, Miss Carl finally placed the canvas 
near the door of the room. Her Majesty told 
Mrs. Conger and the rest to sit down for a while 
as she wanted to change into another gown. I 
followed her into her bedroom. The first ques- 
tion Her Majesty asked was how old I thought 
Miss Carl was, as she herself could not guess 
her age, her hair being extremely light, in fact al- 
most white. I could hardly refrain from laugh- 



THE EMPRESS'S PORTRAIT 231 

ing outright on hearing this, and told Her 
Majesty that Miss Carl's hair was naturally of a 
light color. Her Majesty said that she had 
often seen ladies with golden hair, but never one 
with white hair, excepting old ladies. She said: 
"I think that she is very nice, however, and hope 
she will paint a good portrait." 

Turning to one of the Court ladies, she ordered 
her to fetch a yellow gown as although, as she 
put it, she did not like yellow, she thought it 
would be the best color for a portrait. She 
selected one from a number which the Court lady 
brought, embroidered all over with purple wis- 
teria. Her shoes and handkerchiefs matched. 
She also wore a blue silk scarf, embroidered with 
the character "Shou" (long life). Each char- 
acter had a pearl in the center. She wore a pair 
of jade bracelets and also jade nail protectors. 
In addition she wore jade butterflies and a tassel 
on one side of her headdress, and, as usual, fresh 
flowers on the other side. Her Majesty cer- 
tainly did look beautiful on that occasion. 

By the time she came out from her room Miss 
Carl had everything prepared. When she saw 
how Her Majesty was dressed, she exclaimed: 
"How beautiful Her Majesty looks in this 
dress," which remark I interpreted to Her 
Majesty, and it pleased her very much. 

She seated herself on her throne, ready to pose 



232 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

for the picture. She just sat down in an ordi- 
nary easy position, placing one hand on a cushion. 
Miss Carl explained: "That is an excellent posi- 
tion, as it is so natural. Please do not move." 
I told Her Majesty what Miss Carl said, and 
she asked me whether she looked all right, or not. 
If not, she would change her position. I assured 
her that she looked very grand in that position. 
However, she asked the opinion of the Young 
Empress and some of the Court ladies, who all 
agreed that she could not look better. I could 
see that they never looked at Her Majesty at all, 
they were too much interested in what Miss Carl 
was doing. 

When Miss Carl conmienced to make the 
rough sketch of Her Majesty everyone watched 
with open mouth, as they had never seen any- 
thing done so easily and so naturally. The 
Young Empress whispered to me: "Although I 
don't know anything about portrait painting, 
still I can see that she is a good artist. She has 
never seen any of our clothes and headdresses, 
and she has copied them exactly. Just imagine 
one of our Chinese artists trying to paint a for- 
eign lady, what a mess he would make of it." 

After the sketch was finished Her Majesty 
was delighted and thought it was wonderful for 
Miss Carl to have made it so quickly and so accu- 
rately. I explained that this was a rough sketch 



THE EMPRESS'S PORTRAIT 233 

and that when Miss Carl commenced painting, 
she would soon see the difference. Her Majesty 
told me to ask Miss Carl whether she was tired 
and would like to rest; also to tell her that she 
was very busy all the day, and would only be 
able to give her a few minutes' sitting each day. 
We then took Miss Carl to luncheon, together 
with Mrs. Conger, and after luncheon we accom- 
panied Her Majesty to the theatre. 

After Mrs. Conger had departed I took Miss 
Carl to my room to rest. As soon as we arrived 
there, Her Majesty sent a eunuch to call me to 
her bedroom. Her Majesty said: "I don't want 
this lady to paint during my afternoon rest. 
She can rest at the same time. As soon as I 
am up you can bring her here to paint. I am 
glad that it looks like turning out better than 
I had anticipated." I therefore told Miss Carl 
Her Majesty's wishes in this respect and that 
she could paint for a little while, if she chose to, 
after Her Majesty had had her rest. Miss Carl 
was so interested in Her Majesty, she told me 
she didn't want to rest at all, but that she would 
like to go on with the painting right away. Of 
course, I did not like to tell her anything the first 
day, as it might upset her, and did not say that 
this was a command from Her Majesty. After 
a lot of maneuvering I got her to give up the idea 
of continuing straight off, without offending her. 



234 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

I took her out on the veranda as the eunuch 
was preparing the table for Her Majesty's din- 
ner in the room we were then occupying. The 
Young Empress kept Miss Carl busy talking, I 
acting as interpreter. Soon one of the eunuchs 
came and informed us that Her Majesty had 
finished dinner, and would we please come and 
take ours. On entering the room I was very 
much surprised to see that chairs had been placed 
there, as this had never been done previously, 
everybody, with the exception of Her Majesty, 
taking their meals standing. The Young Em- 
press was also very much surprised and asked 
me whether I knew anything about it. I said 
that perhaps it was on account of Miss Carl 
being there. The Young Empress told me to 
go over and ask Her Majesty, as she was afraid 
to sit down without receiving orders to do so. 
Her Majesty whispered to me: "I don't want 
Miss Carl to think we are barbarians, and treat 
the Young Empress and the Court ladies in that 
manner. Of course, she does not understand our 
Court etiquette and might form a wrong impres- 
sion, so you can all sit down without coming over 
to thank me, but be natural, as though you were 
accustomed to sitting down to dinner every day." 
After Her Majesty had washed her hands she 
came over to our table. Of course we all stood 
up. Her Majesty told me to ask Miss Carl 



THE EMPRESS'S PORTRAIT 235 

whether she liked the food, and was pleased when 
Miss Carl answered that she liked the food bet- 
ter than her own kind. That relieved Her Maj- 
esty. 

After dinner was over I told Miss Carl to say 
good-bye to Her Majesty. We courtesied to 
her, also to the Young Empress, and said good 
night to the Court ladies. We then took Miss 
Carl to the Palace of Prince Chung. It took 
us about ten minutes' ride in the carts. We 
showed Miss Carl her bedroom, and were pleased 
to leave her and get to our own rooms, for a 
good night's rest. 

The next morning we took Miss Carl to the 
Palace, and arrived there during the morning 
audience. Of course Miss Carl, being a for- 
eigner, could not enter the Throne Koom, so we 
sat down on the back veranda of the Audience 
Hall and waited until it was over. This, of 
course, prevented my being in attendance each 
morning, as usual, and was a great disappoint- 
ment to me, as I was unable to keep in 
touch with what was taking place. Moreover, 
during the time I had been at Court, my one 
object had been to endeavor to interest Her 
Majesty in Western customs and civilization. I 
believed that to a great extent Her Majesty was 
becoming interested in these things, and would 
refer the subjects of our conversations to her 



236 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

Ministers, for their opinions. For instance, I 
had shown her photographs taken of a Naval 
Review at which I was present in France. Her 
Majesty seemed to he impressed, and said that 
she would certainly like to be able to make a 
similar display in China. This matter she con- 
sulted with her Ministers, but they gave the 
usual evasive answer, viz.: "There is plenty of 
time for that." From this you will see that Her 
Majesty was not able to introduce reforms 
entirely alone, even though she might desire to 
do so, but had to consult the Ministers, who 
would always agree with Her Majesty, but 
would suggest that the matter be put ofp for a 
time. 

My experience while at the Palace was that 
everybody seemed to be afraid to suggest any- 
thing new for fear they might get themselves 
into trouble. 

When Her Majesty came out from the Audi- 
ence Hall, Miss Carl went up to her and kissed 
Her Majesty's hand, which caused her great 
surprise, although she did not show it at the time. 
Afterwards, however, when we were alone, she 
asked me why Miss Carl had done this, as it was 
not a Chinese custom. She naturally thought 
that it must be a foreign custom, and therefore 
said nothing about it. 

Her Majesty then proceeded on foot to her 



THE EMPRESS'S PORTRAIT 237 

own Palace, to change her dress for the por- 
trait. It was a beautiful morning, and when 
she had posed for about ten minutes, she told 
me that she felt too tired to proceed, and asked 
if it would be all right to ask Miss Carl to post- 
pone it. I explained that as Miss Carl was 
going to be at the Palace for some time, the post- 
ponement of one day's sitting would not make 
much difference at that time, although I knew 
that Miss Carl would naturally be disappointed. 
Still, I had to humor Her Majesty as much as 
possible, otherwise she might have thrown up 
the whole thing. Miss Carl said that if Her 
Majesty wished to go to rest, she could be work- 
ing painting the screen and the throne, and Her 
Majesty could pose again later on if she felt like 
it. This pleased Her Majesty, and she said that 
she would try to sit again after taking her after- 
noon's rest. Her Majesty ordered me to give 
Miss Carl her lunch in my own room at twelve 
o'clock each day, my mother, my sister and my- 
self keeping her company. Dinner at the Palace 
was usually taken about six o'clock, and it was 
arranged that Miss Carl should take dinner with 
the Young Empress and the Court ladies at that 
hour, after Her Majesty had finished dining. 
Her Majesty also ordered that champagne or 
any other wine which Miss Carl preferred, should 
be served, as she said she knew it was the custom 



238 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

for all foreign ladies to take wine with their meals. 
Where she got hold of this idea, nohody knew. 
I was sure that Her Majesty had been misin- 
formed by somebody, but it would have been bad 
policy to have tried to tell her different at the 
moment. She disliked very much to be told that 
she was wrong in any of these things, and it could 
only be done by waiting and casually introducing 
the subject at some other time. 

After Miss Carl had gone to rest during the 
afternoon. Her Majesty sent for me and asked 
the usual question, viz.: What had Miss Carl 
been saying? etc., etc. She seemed particularly 
anxious to know what Miss Carl thought of her, 
and when I told her that Miss Carl had said 
that she was very beautiful and quite young look- 
ing, she said: "Oh! well, of course Miss Carl 
would say that to you." However, on my as- 
suring her that Miss Carl had given this opinion 
without being asked for it, she showed very 
plainly that she was not at all displeased with 
the compliment. 

Suddenly Her Majesty said: "I have been 
thinking that if Miss Carl can paint the screen 
and the throne, surely she ought to be able to 
paint my clothes and jewels, without it being 
necessary for me to pose all the time." I told 
her that would be quite impossible, as nobody 
could hold the things for Miss Carl to get the 



THE EMPRESS'S PORTRAIT 239 

proper effect. To my surprise she answered: 
"Well, that is easily gotten over. You wear 
them in my place." I hardly knew what to say, 
but thought I would get out of the difficulty by 
telling her that perhaps Miss Carl would not 
like such an arrangement. Her Majesty, how- 
ever, could see no possible objection on Miss 
Carl's part, as she herself could pose when the 
time came for painting her face. So I put the 
matter as nicely as possible to Miss Carl, and it 
was finally arranged that I should dress in Her 
Majesty's robes and jewels whenever Her 
Majesty felt too tired to do the posing herself. 
In this manner the portrait of the Empress 
Dowager was painted, and with the exception of 
just a few hours to enable Miss Carl to get Her 
Majesty's facial expression, I had to sit for two 
hours each morning, and for another two hours 
each afternoon until the portrait was finished. 



CHAPTER FOURTEEN 
THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 

My father's four months' leave having expired, 
he was received in audience by their Majesties 
on the first day of the sixth moon. He was 
much improved in health, but his rheumatism 
was still very troublesome. This was particu- 
larly noticeable when climbing the steps to the 
Audience Hall, and Her Majesty ordered two 
of the eunuchs to assist him. 

First he thanked Her Majesty for her kind- 
ness towards my sister and myself, and, as was 
the custom, took off his hat and knelt down, bow- 
ing his head until it struck the ground. This 
ceremony was always gone through by any offi- 
cial who had received special favors from Their 
Majesties. 

He then replaced his hat on his head and 
remained kneeling before the throne. Her 
Majesty then questioned him about his life 
in Paris, from time to time complimenting him 
on his work. Seeing that remaining in this 
kneeling position appeared to be making him 
tired. Her Majesty ordered one of the eunuchs 

240 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 241 

to bring a cushion for him to use, which was 
another great honor, as this cushion was only 
used by the President of the Grand Council. 

Her Majesty told him that as he was now 
getting to be a very old man, she did not intend 
sending him away from China again, as she 
wanted to keep my sister and myself at the 
Court, which she could not do if she sent him to 
some foreign country, as he would want to take 
his daughters with him. She said she was 
pleased, that although we had been away from 
China for such a long time, we were well ac- 
quainted with the Manchu customs. My father 
replied that it had been his care that we should 
be brought up according to the customs of our 
own country. 

Her Majesty then asked the Emperor if he 
had anything to say, and he replied by asking 
my father if he spoke French, and thought it 
very strange on learning that he did not. My 
father explained that he had never had the time 
to study it, besides which he considered himself 
too old to learn a foreign language. 

The Emperor next asked what was the feeling 
in France towards China. My father replied that 
they were very friendly at that time, but that 
immediately after the Boxer trouble the post of 
Minister had been a very embarrassing one. Her 
Majesty said that it had been an unfortunate 



£42 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

affair, but she was glad that everything was 
now settled satisfactorily. She told my father 
that he was to get well again as quickly as pos- 
sible, and the audience came to an end. 

Afterwards Her Majesty said that my father 
was looking very old since his return from 
France and that he would have to be careful 
and take things easy until he got stronger again. 
She was pleased that he had shown appreciation 
of her interest in my sister and myself. 

Preparations were now commenced for cele- 
brating the birthday of His Majesty, the Em- 
peror Kwang Hsu, which was to take place on 
the 28th of that month. The actual date of the 
Emperor's birthday was the 26th of the sixth 
moon, but this day, being the anniversary of 
the death of a previous Emperor of China, we 
were unable to hold any festivities, and so it was 
always celebrated on the 28th day instead. The 
official celebration lasted for seven days, three 
days before and four days after the actual date. 
During that time the whole of the Court dressed 
in official robes, and no business of any kind 
whatever was attended to. This being the 
Emperor's 32nd birthday, and as the full cele- 
brations only took place every tenth year, i. e. 
on his 20th birthday, his 30th birthday, and 
so on, the festivities were not carried out on a 
very grand scale. However, it was quite suffi- 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY g4<3 

cient to interfere with all business, and the usual 
morning audiences did not take place during 
these seven days. The Empress Dowager her- 
self was the only person who did not dress espe- 
cially during these celebrations, and who did not 
take any active part in the festivities. Another 
reason why the celebrations were not carried out 
on a very large scale was the fact that the 
Empress Dowager, being alive, she took prece- 
dence, according to the Manchu custom, over the 
Emperor himself, in fact she was the actual ruler 
of the country, the Emperor being second. The 
Emperor was quite aware of this fact, and 
when the Empress commanded that prepara- 
tions be commenced for the celebrations, the 
Emperor would always suggest that it was not 
at all necessary to celebrate the occasion unless 
it happened to be a tenth year, and would 
very reluctantly agree to the festivities taking 
place. Of course this was more out of polite- 
ness on the part of the Emperor and to conform 
to the recognized etiquette, but the nation recog- 
nized this birthday and naturally celebrated ac- 
cording to the usual custom. During this 
period, therefore, the painting of the portrait was 
postponed. 

When the morning of the 25th arrived, the 
Emperor dressed himself in his official robe — 
yellow gown, embroidered with gold dragons and 



244 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

coat of a reddish black color. Of course, being 
the Emperor, in place of the usual button on the 
hat he wore a large pearl. I might mention that 
the Emperor was the only person who could wear 
this particular pearl in place of a button. He 
came as usual to wish Her Majesty Chi Hsiang 
and then proceeded to the temple to worship be- 
fore the ancestral tablets. After this ceremony 
was over he returned to the Empress Dowager 
and kowtowed to her. All the Chinese adopt 
this iTile of kowtowing to their parents on 
their own birthdays, as a sign of reverence and 
respect. The Emperor next proceeded to the 
Audience Hall, where all the Ministers were 
assembled, and received their salutations and con- 
gratulations. This ceremony very often caused 
amusement, for to see several hundred people all 
bobbing their heads up and down, especially when 
they did not all manage to do it together, was a 
very funny sight. Even the Emperor himself 
had to laugh, it was such an extraordinary 
spectacle. 

The musical instruments which were used dur- 
ing the ceremony deserve a little description. 
The principal instrument is made of hard wood, 
and has a flat bottom about three feet in diame- 
ter, with a dome-shaped top raised about three 
feet from the ground. The inside is quite hol- 
low. A long pole made of the same material 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 245 

is used as a drumstick, and an official, specially 
appointed, beats with all his might on the drum. 
The noise can be better imagined than described. 
This is used as a signal to announce when the 
Emperor takes his seat upon the throne. In 
addition to the above, a full sized model of a 
tiger, also made of similar hard wood, and hav- 
ing twenty-four scales on its back, is brought 
into the courtyard. In this case they did not 
beat the instrument, but scraped along its back 
over the scales, which emitted a noise similar to 
the letting off simultaneously of innumerable 
crackers. This noise was kept up during the 
whole of the ceremony, and what with the drum 
and this tiger instrument it was sufficient to 
deafen one. During the ceremony, an official 
crier used to call out the different orders, such as 
when to kneel, bow, stand up, kowtow, etc., etc., 
but with the noise it was quite impossible to hear 
a single word of what he uttered. Another in- 
strument was composed of a frame made of 
wood, about eight feet high by three feet broad. 
Across this frame were three wooden bars, from 
which was suspended twelve bells, made out of 
pure gold. When these were struck with a 
wooden stick the sound was not at all unlike the 
dulcimer, only, of course, very much louder. 
This was placed on the right side of the Audience 
Hall. On the left side a similar instrument was 



g46 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

placed, with the exception that the bells were 
carved out of white jade. The music which 
could be brought out of the instrument was very 
sweet. 

When this ceremony of receiving the Minis- 
ters was concluded, the Emperor proceeded to 
his private Palace, where the Young Empress 
(his wife), the Secondary wife and all the Court 
ladies were gathered, and, after kowtowing, all 
of the Court ladies present, led by the Young 
Empress, knelt before him and presented him 
with a Ru Yee. This is a kind of sceptre. 
Some are made out of pure jade, while others 
are made out of wood inlaid with jade. This 
Ru Yee is a symbol of good luck and was sup- 
posed to bring happiness and prosperity to the 
person to whom it was presented. The cere- 
mony was gone through to the accompaniment 
of music played on string instruments, which 
was very sweet. 

Next the eunuchs were received by the Em- 
peror, and they similarly congratulated him, but 
without the accompaniment of music. After the 
eunuchs came the servant girls, and the whole of 
the ceremony was over. The Emperor next pro- 
ceeded to Her Majesty's Palace, where he knelt 
before Her Majesty and thanked her for the 
celebration wliich had been given in his honor, 
after which Her Majesty, accompanied by the 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 247 

whole Court, went to the theatre to see the play. 

On arrival at the theatre we were all presented 
by Her Majesty with sweetmeats, this being the 
custom on these occasions, and after a little while 
Her Majesty retired for her afternoon rest. 
Thus the celebration ended. 

Two days after the celebration the seventh 
moon commenced. The seventh day of the sev- 
enth moon was the occasion of another important 
anniversary. 

The two stars, Niu Lang (Capricorn) and 
Chih Nu (Lyra) are supposed to be the patrons 
of agriculture and weaving and, according to 
tradition, were at one time man and wife. As the 
result of a quarrel, however, they were doomed 
to live apart, being separated from each other 
by the "Milky Way." But on the seventh day 
of the seventh moon of each year they are allowed 
to see each other and the magpies are supposed 
to build a bridge to enable them to meet. 

The ceremony is rather peculiar. Several 
basins full of water were placed so that the sun's 
rays would fall upon them. Her Majesty then 
took several tiny needles and dropped one into 
each basin. These floated on the water, casting 
a shadow across the bottom of the basins. These 
shadows took different forms, according to the 
position of the needle, and if the shadow took 
certain prescribed forms, the person throwing 



248 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

in the needle was supposed to be very lucky and 
clever, while if they represented certain other 
forms, they were despised by the gods as being 
ignorant. In addition, Her Majesty burned in- 
cense and offered up prayers to the two gods re- 
ferred to. 

This was always a sad moon for Her Majesty, 
it being the anniversary of the death of her hus- 
band, the Emperor Hsien Feng, who died on the 
17th of that month. The fifteenth of the 
seventh moon each year is the day of the fes- 
tival for the dead, and early in the morning 
the Court moved to the Sea Palace in order to 
sacrifice. The Chinese hold that when a person 
dies, his soul still remains on the earth, and on 
these anniversaries they burn imitation money, 
the belief being that the soul of the departed one 
will benefit to the extent of the amount of money 
so represented. On the anniversary above 
referred to Her Majesty sent for hundreds of 
Buddhist priests to pray for those unfortunate 
people who had died without leaving anyone who 
could sacrifice for them. On the evening of 
this day. Her Majesty and all her Court ladies 
set out in open boats on the lake, where imitation 
lotus flowers were arranged as lanterns, with a 
candle placed in the centre, which formed a sort 
of floating light, the idea being to give light to 
the spirits of those who had departed during the 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 249 

year, so as to enable them to come and receive 
the blessings which had been prepared for them. 
Her Majesty ordered us to light the candles and 
place the flowers on the water ourselves, as she 
said it would be appreciated by the spirits of the 
dead. Some of the eunuchs had told Her 
Majesty that they had actually seen some of 
these spirits, which assertion was thoroughly 
believed. Although she had never seen them her- 
self, she accounted for this by the fact that she 
was of too high a rank and the spirits were afraid 
of her, but she ordered all the rest of us to keep 
a sharp lookout and tell her if we saw anything. 
Of course we didn't see anything, but many of 
the Court ladies were so frightened that they 
closed their eyes for fear they might see some- 
thing supernatural. 

Her Majesty was devoted to the late Emperor 
Hsien Feng, and she was very sad and morose 
during this period. We all had to be very care- 
ful indeed not to upset her in any way, as she 
would find fault on the slightest provocation. 
She hardly had a word to say to any of us, and 
cried almost incessantly. I could hardly under- 
stand the reason for such grief, seeing that the 
Emperor had died so many years previously. 
None of the Court ladies were allowed to dress 
in light-coloured gowns during the whole of the 
seventh moon. We all dressed either in dark 



250 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

blue or pale blue, while Her Majesty herself 
dressed in black every day without exception. 
Even her handkerchiefs were black. The the- 
atres which were usually opened on the first 
and fifteenth of each month, were closed dur- 
ing the seventh moon. There was no music, and 
everything was conducted in the most solemn 
manner; in fact, the whole Court was in deep 
mourning. 

On the morning of the seventeenth day of the 
seventh moon. Her Majesty visited the late 
Emperor's tablet, and knelt there crying for 
quite a while. In order to show respect for the 
late Emperor, none of us were allowed to eat 
meat for three days. This being my first year 
at the Palace, it appeared to me very strange, 
after the customary gaiety and noise. Of course 
I felt very sorry for Her Majesty, as I could see 
that it was a genuine display of grief and was 
not in any way put on. As I was her favorite 
at that time, she kept me close to her side during 
this sad period. The Young Empress said to 
me one day: "Her Majesty is very much attached 
to you, and I think you had better stay with her 
for the time being." This I did, and I was so 
miserable myself that when Her Majesty com- 
menced crying I would cry also. When she saw 
that I was crying. Her Majesty would immedi- 
ately stop and ask me not to cry. She would tell 








The Empress of China dressed as the Goddess of Mercy, with 

Li Lien Ying, first eunuch, and Tsue Yu Gay, second 

eunuch, as her attendants 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 251 

me that I was too young to cry, and that in any 
case I did not know what real sorrow was as yet. 
During the conversations we had at that time she 
would tell me quite a lot about herself. On one 
occasion she said : "You know I have had a very 
hard life ever since I was a young girl. I was not 
a bit happy when with my parents, as I was not 
the favorite. My sisters had everything they 
wanted, while I was, to a great extent, ignored 
altogether. When I first came to the Court, 
a lot of the people were jealous of me because 
I was considered to be a beautiful woman at 
that time. I must say myself that I was a clever 
one, for I fought my own battles, and won them, 
too. When I arrived at Court the late Emperor 
became very much attached to me and would 
hardly glance at any of the other ladies. For- 
tunately, I was lucky in giving birth to a son, as 
it made me the Emperor's undisputed favorite; 
but after that I had very bad luck. During the 
last year of his reign the Emperor was seized with 
a sudden illness. In addition to this the foreign 
soldiers burnt down the Palace at Yuen Ming 
Yuen, so we fled to Jehol. Of course everybody 
knows what took place at that time. I was still 
a young woman, with a dying husband and a 
young son. The East Empress Dowager's 
nephew was a bad man, who coveted the throne, 
which he had no right to in any event, as he was 



252 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

not of royal blood. I would not wish anyone 
to experience what I myself passed through at 
that time. When the Emperor was in a dying 
condition, being practically unconscious of what 
was taking place around him, I took my son to 
his bedside and asked him what was going to be 
done about his successor to the throne. He made 
no reply to this, but, as has always been the case 
in emergencies, I was equal to the occasion, and 
I said to him: 'Here is your son,' on hearing 
which he immediately opened his eyes and said: 
'Of course he will succeed to the throne.' I nat- 
urally felt relieved when this was settled once 
and for all. These words were practically the 
last he spoke, for he died immediately afterwards. 
Although it is now so many years ago, I can see 
him now in that dying condition, just as though 
it all happened only yesterday. 

"I thought that I could be happy with my son 
as the Emperor Tung Chi, but unfortunately he 
died before he was twenty years of age. Since 
that time I have been a changed woman, as all 
happiness was over as far as I was concerned 
when he died. I had also quite a lot of trouble 
with the East Empress Dowager and found it 
very difficult to keep on good terms with her. 
However, she died five years after the death of 
my son. In addition to all this, when the Empe- 
ror Kwang Hsu was brought to me as a baby 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 253 

three years old, he was a very sickly child, and 
could hardly walk, he was so thin and weak. His 
parents seemed to be afraid of giving him any- 
thing to eat. You know his father was Prince 
Chung, and his mother was my sister, so of course 
he was almost the same as my own son, in fact I 
adopted him as such. Even now, after all my 
trouble on his account, he is not in perfect health. 
As you know, I have had plenty of other troubles 
beside these, but it is useless to mention them 
now. I am disappointed with everything, as 
nothing has turned out as I had expected." 
With this remark Her Majesty commenced cry- 
ing afresh. Continuing, she said: "People seem 
to think that just because I am the Empress 
Dowager that I am bound to be happy, but what 
I have just told you is not all. I have gone 
through much more than that. If ever anything 
went wrong, I was always the one who was 
blamed. The censors even dare to impeach me 
once in a while. However, I am philosopher 
enough to take things for what they are worth, 
otherwise I would have been in my own grave 
long, long ago. Just imagine how small minded 
these people are. Amongst other things they ob- 
jected to my transferring my Court to the Sum- 
mer Palace during the hot weather, although I 
could do no harm by being there. Even in the 
short time you have spent at Court, you can see 



254j two years in THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

that I am unable to decide anything alone, while 
whenever they want anything they consult with 
each other and then present their petition to me, 
which, unless it is something of a very serious 
nature, I never think of refusing." 

After the time set apart for mourning had 
expired, we all went back to the Summer Palace, 
where Miss Carl re-commenced her work on Her 
Majesty's portrait. Her Majesty apparently 
soon got tired of this portrait painting, for one 
day she asked me when I thought it would be 
finished. She was afraid that it would not be 
finished by the time the cold weather came on, 
when we always removed the Court to the For- 
bidden City, and she said it would be a lot of 
trouble and inconvenience to have to continue 
the portrait there. I told Her Majesty that it 
could easily be arranged and that she need not 
worry herself. 

After I had been posing in Her Majesty's 
place for several days Her Majesty asked me 
whether Miss Carl had said anything about it, 
and if she did, I was to inform her that it was a 
command from Her Majesty, and that I dare 
not make any further suggestions in that respect. 
So we had no further trouble with Miss Carl 
after that. I had, however, quite a lot of trouble 
with the eunuchs, who, in spite of Her Majesty's 
instructions, were anything but polite to Miss 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 255 

Carl. Of course Miss Carl herself did not know 
this. I tried to make them behave better by- 
threatening to tell Her Majesty about them, 
which had a good effect for a while, but they were 
soon as bad as ever. 

At the commencement of the eighth moon, Her 
Majesty always attended to the transplanting 
of her chrysanthemums, which was one of her 
favorite flowers, so each day she would take us 
with her to the west side of the lake and, assisted 
by us, would cut the tops of the young plants 
and set them in flower pots. I was very much 
surprised at this, as there were no roots, only 
the stems of the flowers, but Her Majesty 
assured me that they would soon grow into 
very pretty plants. Every day we went over 
to water these flowers until they began to bud. 
In case it rained heavily. Her Majesty would 
order some of the eunuchs to go over and cover 
up these chrysanthemum plants with mats, so 
that they would not be broken. It was char- 
acteristic of Her Majesty that, no matter what 
other business she had to attend to, her flowers 
had her first consideration and she would, if nec- 
essary, even go without her usual rest in order 
to superintend them personally. She also spent 
quite a time in looking after her orchard, where 
she had planted apple trees, pear trees, etc. 
Another thing which I began to notice was that 



S56 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

when the spring and summer days had passed, 
she got quite irritable and sad, while in the win- 
ter she was simply unbearable. She loathed 
cold weather. 

One day, during the eighth moon. Her 
Majesty was taken slightly ill, and complained 
of suffering from severe headaches. This was 
the only time I ever saw Her Majesty actually 
sick. She, however, got up as usual in the morn- 
ing, and held audience, but was unable to take 
her luncheon, and very soon had to retire to her 
bed. Several doctors were summoned, each of 
whom took her pulse. This was quite a cere- 
mony in itself. The doctors knelt at the bedside, 
and Her Majesty stretched forth her arm, rest- 
ing her hand upon a small pillow which was 
provided for that purpose. After this each 
doctor wrote out his prescription, all of which 
were different from each other. We handed them 
to Her Majesty, who chose the one which she 
thought was the nicest to take, and two attend- 
ants and the doctor himself had to take a dose 
in her presence before she would touch it. Then 
she would take it all right. 

During this time it rained a great deal and 
was very hot. The climate at this time of the 
year is very damp, which causes the flies to make 
their appearance in millions. If there was one 
thing more than another that Her Majesty; 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 257 

detested it was these flies. During the actual 
summer they were not so troublesome as at this 
particular time. Of course every precaution 
was taken to keep them away, a eunuch being 
posted at each door, provided with sort of a switch 
made of horse hair fastened at the end of a bam- 
boo pole. We were never troubled by mos- 
quitoes, however; in fact I never saw a mosquito 
curtain in the Palace during the whole of my 
stay there. These flies were an abomination, 
and in spite of all that could be done a few 
would find their way into the rooms. When- 
ever they alighted on Her Majesty she would 
scream, while if by any chance one were to alight 
on her food she would order the whole lot to be 
thrown away. This would spoil her appetite for 
the whole day and put her into a terrible temper 
as well. Whenever she saw one anywhere near 
her, she would order whoever happened to be 
present to go and catch it. I myself often 
received this order, but I detested them almost 
as much as Her Majesty did, they were so dirty, 
and stuck to one's hands whenever they touched 
them. 

After her illness Her Majesty was indisposed 
more or less for quite a long time, and doctors 
were constantly in attendance. She took so 
many different kinds of medicine that instead of 
getting better she got worse and eventually con- 



258 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

tracted a fever. Her Majesty was very much 
afraid of fevers of any kind and we had to stay 
with her all night and all day and had to take 
our meals whenever we could get away from her 
bedside for a few minutes. Another peculiarity 
was Her Majesty's aversion for any kind of per- 
fume near her when she was sick, while when 
she was feeling well she was simply smothered 
in it. The same applied to fresh flowers ; in spite 
of her love for them under ordinary conditions, 
when she was sick she could not bear them any- 
where near. Her nerves became absolutely 
unstrung, as she was unable to sleep during the 
day, and consequently the time passed very 
slowly to her. In order to make the time pass 
a little less tediously, she gave instructions for 
one of the better educated eunuchs to read to her 
during the daytime. This reading generally 
consisted of ancient Chinese history, poetry and 
all kinds of Chinese lore, and while the eunuch 
was reading to her we had to stand by her bed- 
side, one of us being told off to massage her 
legs, which seemed to soothe her somewhat. This 
same program was gone through every day until 
she was completely herself again — some ten days 
later. 

One day Her Majesty asked me: "What kind 
of medicine does a foreign doctor usually give 
in case of a fever? I have heard that they make 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 259 

you take all kinds of pills. This must be very 
dangerous, as you never know what they are 
made of. Here in China all medicines are made 
from roots, and I can always find out whether 
I am receiving the right medicine, as I have a 
book which explains what each different medi- 
cine is for. Another thing I have heard is that 
foreign doctors generally operate on you with a 
knife, while we cure the same sickness by means 
of our medicine. Li Lien Ying told me that 
one of our little eunuchs had a boil on his wrist 
and someone advised him to go to the hospital. 
Of course they didn't know what they would do, 
and the foreign doctor there opened the boil 
with a knife, which frightened the child very 
much. I was very much surprised when I heard 
he was all right again in a couple of days." Con- 
tinuing, Her Majesty said: "A year ago one of 
the foreign ladies came to the Palace, and hear- 
ing me cough a lot, gave me some black pills 
and told me to swallow them. I did not like to 
offend her, so I took the pills and told her I 
would take them by and bye. However, I was 
afraid to take them and threw them away." Of 
course I answered that I didn't know much about 
medicines, to which she replied that she had 
seen me take foreign medicines whenever I was 
not feeling well. She then said: "Of course I 
know there are people in Peking who do take 



^60 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

the medicines given them by foreign doctors and 
even some of my own relatives patronize these 
foreigners also. They try not to let me know, 
but I do know for all that. In any case, if they 
choose to kill themselves by taking these things, 
it is none of my business ; that is the reason why, 
when they are sick, I never send my own doctors 
to attend them." 

When Her Majesty had completely recovered 
from her illness she used to go out on the lake 
a great deal, sometimes in an open boat and at 
other times in a steam launch. She always 
appeared to enjoy this kind of thing. For some 
reason or other she always insisted on taking the 
west side of the lake, which was very shallow, 
and invariably the launch would get stuck fast 
in the mud, which seemed to afford Her Majesty 
great enjoyment; she simply loved to feel the 
launch strike the bottom. The open boats would 
then come alongside and we would have to 
get out of the launch and enter the boats and 
proceed to the top of the nearest hill to watch 
the efforts of the eunuchs trying to refloat the 
launch. It was a characteristic of Her Majesty 
to experience a keen sense of enjoyment at the 
troubles of other people. The eunuchs knew 
this quite well, and whenever opportunity 
offered, they would do something which they 
thought would amuse Her Majesty. So long 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 261 

as it was nothing of a serious nature Her 
Majesty would always overlook it, but in case 
it proved serious or was carelessness, she would 
always order them to be severely punished. 
Thus it was very hard to tell just what to do 
in order to please her. 

Another of Her Majesty's peculiarities was 
inquisitiveness. For example: As I have stated 
before, it was the custom for Her Majesty to 
have sweetmeats brought to her before every 
meal, and after she had finished with them, the 
remainder were distributed among the Court 
ladies. Whenever it happened that we were 
very busy, we did not bother with the sweetmeats 
at all, which Her Majesty very soon found out. 
One day, after she had finished dining, she came 
and looked through the window to see what we 
were doing, and saw some of the eunuchs eating 
the sweetmeats which she had given to us. She 
did not say anything, but simply ordered that 
the sweetmeats should be brought back again, 
making us believe that she wanted some more 
herself. I knew that there was something 
wrong, as she never ordered them back before. 
When she saw what was left of them, she asked 
who had been eating so many, as they were nearly 
all finished, but she got no reply — ^we were all 
too scared. However, after thinking it over, I 
came to the conclusion that it would be best to 



262 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

tell her the truth, for I was quite certain that 
she knew anyhow. So I told her that we had all 
been very busy and had forgotten all about the 
sweetmeats, and that the eunuchs had come and 
taken them themselves, and I added that this 
was not the first time they had done so. I was 
rather glad that she had given me this oppor- 
tunity to report the eunuchs, for Her Majesty 
replied that if she intended the eunuchs to have 
sweetmeats, she herself could give them some, 
but thought it a lack of appreciation on our part 
not eating them ourselves after she had been so 
kind as to provide them for us. She turned to 
me, and said: "I am glad that you have told the 
truth, as I saw myself what was happening." 
She gave orders that the offending eunuchs 
should each have three months' wages deducted 
as a punishment, but of course I knew very well 
they didn't mind that, as they were making many 
times the amount of their salary in other ways. 
On my return to the sitting room, one of the 
Court ladies said: "You should not have told 
Her Majesty about the eunuchs, they are sure 
to revenge themselves in some way." I asked 
how they could possibly injure me in any way, 
as they were only servants, but she told me that 
they would find some underhand way in which 
to get even with me, this being their general cus- 
tom. Of course I knew the eunuchs were a bad 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 263 

lot, but could not see what cause they had to be 
against me in any way. I knew they dare not 
say anything against me to Her Majesty, so I 
forgot all about the matter. I found out after- 
wards that one of the tricks they used to play on 
any of the Court ladies who offended them was 
to try and prejudice Her Majesty against us. 
For instance, if Her Majesty told one of the 
eunuchs that a certain thing should be done, 
instead of telling me what Her Majesty wanted, 
the eunuch would go off to one of the other ladies 
and tell her. In this way Her Majesty would 
get the impression that I was too lazy to wait 
upon her myself, and of course the other lady 
would get all the credit. Although Her Majesty 
was very kind to me, also the Young Empress, 
it was very hard to get along with eunuchs, and 
it was not good policy to offend them in any way. 
They regarded themselves as being exclusively 
the servants of Her Majesty, the Empress Dow- 
ager, and refused to take instructions from any- 
body else, consequently they were often very 
rude to the other ladies of the Court, not even 
excepting the Young Empress. 

Everything proceeded as usual until the eighth 
moon, when the Emperor was to sacrifice at the 
"Temple of the Sun," On this occasion the 
Emperor wore a red robe. 

About this time Mrs. Conger asked for a pri- 



264. TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDENi CITY 

vate audience, as she wanted to see Her Majesty 
and at the same time see how the portrait was 
progressing. Her Majesty repHed that she 
would receive her and gave orders accordingly. 
At this private audience Mrs. Conger brought 
into the Court two of her relatives to be pre- 
sented to Her Majesty, besides Miss Campbell 
and a missionary lady. As it was a private audi- 
ence, the guests were conducted to Her Majesty's 
private Palace. They were received in the hall 
which was being used as studio for this lady 
artist, although Her Majesty was out of patience 
with the portrait painting, and talked to us a 
great deal about it, yet when she saw Mrs. 
Conger and the others she was extremely polite 
and told them that the portrait was going to be 
a masterpiece. She was in an unusually good 
humor that day and told me to give orders to 
the eunuchs to open all the buildings and show 
them to her guests. Her Majesty led the way 
from one room to another and showed them her 
curios in the different rooms, until she came to 
rest in one of the bedrooms, when she ordered 
chairs to be brought in for the guests. There 
were many chairs in this room, but they were 
really small thrones of Her Majesty's, although 
they looked like any ordinary chairs. The cus- 
tom is that no matter what kind of a chair 
it may be, as soon as she uses it, it is at 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 265 

once called her throne and no one is allowed to sit 
on it thereafter unless the order is given by 
her. 

During the time the eunuchs were bringing in 
the chairs kept purposely for foreigners to use, 
one of the ladies of the party made a mistake 
and sat upon one of Her Majesty's thrones. I 
noticed her at once, and before I had a chance 
to warn her, Her Majesty made a sign of annoy- 
ance to me. I went to this lady at once and told 
her I wanted to show her something and nat- 
urally she was obliged to get up. The trouble 
was this, although Her Majesty felt that no one 
had the right to sit upon her throne, she expected 
me to get this lady off the chair and at the same 
time not to tell her the reason why. While I 
was busy interpreting for her, she said in an 
undertone: "There she is again, sitting on my 
bed. We had better leave this room." After 
this the ladies were conducted to the refreshment 
room, and when they had partaken of lunch, 
bade Her Majesty good-byCj leaving Miss Carl 
with us. As usual we reported to her that we 
had seen the guests safely off. She said to me: 
"That was a funny lady: first she sat upon my 
throne, and then upon my bed. Perhaps she 
does not know what a throne is when she sees 
one, and yet foreigners laugh at us. I am sure 
that our manners are far superior to theirs. 



^66 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

Another thing — did you notice that Mrs. Conger 
handed a parcel to Miss Carl out in the court- 
yard when she came in?" I replied that I had 
noticed her passing something like a parcel, but 
could not tell what the parcel contained. She 
thereupon told me to go and ask Miss Carl what 
it was. At that time I had received so many 
peculiar orders from Her Majesty that I was 
beginning to get accustomed to them and used 
my own discretion in carrying out her instruc- 
tions. Therefore I did not ask Miss Carl, but 
set about finding out for myself. However, 
when I began to look around for the parcel, it 
had mysteriously disappeared and I could not 
find the thing anywhere. This naturally wor- 
ried me, knowing as I did that Her Majesty 
liked her instructions carried out quickly. While 
I was searching, one of the eunuchs came in and 
told me that Her Majesty wanted to see me, 
and of course I had to go to her. Before she 
could say anything to me, I informed Her 
Majesty that I had not been able to ask Miss 
Carl about the parcel as she was asleep, but 
would do so immediately she got up. Her 
Majesty said: "I don't want Miss Carl to think 
I have told you to ask what the parcel contains, 
otherwise she might think I am suspicious of 
what is going on, so you must manage to get the 
information somehow without mentioning the 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 267 

matter; you are clever enough to do that much." 
Shortly afterwards, while I was walking along 
with Miss Carl to Her Majesty's Palace, to 
proceed with the portrait, I noticed that she 
was carrying the parcel in question, which was 
a great reHef to me, I can assure you. On 
arrival at the Palace, Miss Carl said to me: 
*'You need not trouble to pose at present, as 
it is rather dark, and I can be painting the 
throne; you can look through this magazine, 
if you like, to pass the time away." So I 
opened up the parcel, which proved to contain 
nothing more than an ordinary American 
monthly magazine. After glancing through the 
book, I made an excuse to hurry away and 
inform Her Majesty. However, she had 
already gone out for her usual trip on the lake, 
so I took my chair and followed. When I 
reached the lake. Her Majesty, who had seen 
me, sent a small boat and I was rowed out to 
the launch. Before I could get a chance to 
speak, Her Majesty said with a smile: "I know 
all about it, it was a book and Miss Carl handed 
it to you to read." I was very much disap- 
pointed that I had had my journey for nothing. 
I knew that the eunuchs would report it to Her 
Majesty at the first opportunity, but I hardly 
expected they would have done so already. Her 
Majesty was now quite satisfied, and simply 



268 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

asked whether Miss Carl suspected that she had 
enquired about the matter. 

As I was about to return to Miss Carl, Her 
Majesty called me and said: "There is one thing 
I want to tell you and that is whenever any for- 
eign ladies are visiting the Palace, always keep 
close to the Emperor so that in the event of their 
speaking to him you can interpret." I answered 
that so far whenever any foreigners were present 
I was present also and did not think that any- 
body had held any conversation with the Em- 
peror whatsoever. She explained that her rea- 
son for mentioning this was that she wanted me 
to be just as courteous to the Emperor as I was 
to herself, and I was to place myself entirely at 
his disposal whenever visitors were present. Of 
course I knew very well that this was not the 
true reason at all but that she wanted to take 
every precaution to preclude the possibility of 
foreigners influencing the Emperor in matters 
of reform, etc. 



CHAPTER FIFTEEN 
THE MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL 

On the fifteenth day of the eighth moon came 
the celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival, 
sometimes called the Moon Festival. 

This name is derived from the belief which the 
Chinese hold that the moon is not permanently 
round v^^hen full, but that on this particular day 
it is a perfect circle. The ceremony which is 
gone through is conducted entirely by the Court 
ladies and consists of worshiping the moon as 
soon as it appears in the sky. In other respects 
the celebrations are exactly the same as in the 
Dragon Boat Festival, presents were exchanged 
between Her Majesty and the Court officials. 
The festival concluded with a theatrical per- 
formance which describes a scene in the moon. 
The belief is that a beautiful maiden hves in the 
moon, her only companion being a white rabbit, 
called a Jade Rabbit. According to the play 
this rabbit escapes from the moon to the Earth 
and becomes a young and beautiful girl. A 
golden rooster which lives in the sun, becoming 
aware of the rabbit's descent to the earth, himself 

S69 



£70 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

descends from the sun and changes into a hand- 
some prince. Of course they very naturally 
meet and immediately fall in love. Now, on 
the earth lived another rabbit — a red one, who, 
on finding out what was going on, changed him- 
self into a prince also and set about making love 
to the beautiful maiden with the object of cut- 
ting out the rooster. However, he was seriously 
handicapped inasmuch as he was unable to change 
the color of his face, which remained red, there- 
fore his love making met with no success and the 
rooster prince had it all his own way. At this 
point, the beautiful maiden in the moon, on dis- 
covering her loss, sent the soldiers of Heaven to 
re-capture her rabbit, with the result that she 
was taken back to the moon and the rooster be- 
ing left alone, had no alternative but to reluc- 
tantly return to his home in the sun. 

During this performance the head eunuch 
brought a young man into the courtyard, who 
kowtowed to Her Majesty. This was such an 
unusual occurrence that everybody noticed it. 
I could see that he was a stranger and did not 
belong to the Court and I wondered who he 
could be. At the other end of the veranda I 
saw two or three of the Court ladies whispering 
together and smiling. They finally came over to 
me and asked if I knew who he was. I told 
them that he was a stranger to me and they ought 



THE MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL 271 

to know better than I did as they had been at the 
Court much longer. Anyhow I gave it as my 
opinion that he was decidedly ugly. That same 
evening Her Majesty asked me whether I had 
noticed this young man, and told me that he was 
the son of a very high Manchu official; that his 
father was dead and that he had succeeded to 
the title and to a large amount of money. I was 
surprised that Her Majesty should give such a 
lengthy explanation about this young man, but 
I told her that I did not think him very hand- 
some. Her Majesty was talking in a very seri- 
ous manner but I did not think anything of the 
occurrence at the time but a few days later 
while I was posing for the portrait I heard Her 
Majesty whispering to my mother at the other 
end of the room. I saw that Her Majesty was 
holding a photograph in her hands which she 
showed to my mother, at the same time asking 
whether my mother considered him good looking. 
My mother answered "not very." On Her 
Majesty replying that beauty was not every- 
thing I began to suspect that there was something 
going on which directly concerned me. I be- 
gan to think of some excuse in order to get out 
of what I could plainly see was a proposed mar- 
riage between myself and this gentleman. I 
knew that if Her Majesty had made up her 
mind that I was to marry him I could not help 



212 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

myself, but, at the same time, I made up 
my own mind that rather than marry anyone 
whom I did not like, especially one I had 
never seen before, I would leave the Court alto- 
gether. When Her Majesty retired for her 
usual afternoon rest she told me she wanted to 
see me for a moment. After beating about the 
bush for some time, she asked me whether I would 
like to stay with her always or whether I would 
like to go away again to some foreign country. 
I at once answered that I was quite satisfied to 
stay with her as long as she cared to have me but 
that when she was tired of me she could then 
send me away. Her Majesty informed me that 
it had been her intention to marry me to this 
young gentleman and asked my opinion. I told 
her that I did not want to get married at all, 
especially seeing that my father was sick at this 
time, and leaving home to go to live apart from 
my family would break his heart and perhaps 
be the cause of his premature death. Her Maj- 
esty said that was no excuse as I should not have 
to go out of China but would be able to see my 
father and family any time I wished. I told 
Her Majesty that I would much rather stay 
with her altogether and that I did not want 
to marry anybody. Her Majesty then said: 
"I won't listen to any excuse. I have already 
explained everything to your mother, but much 



THE MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL STS 

to my surprise she said it would be better to 
mention it to you first, on account of your having 
been brought up differently from the rest of the 
Court ladies. Had it not been for this fact I 
would simply have arranged everything with 
your mother and the matter would have been 
settled so far as you were concerned." I could 
not say anything in answer to this, so commenced 
to cry. I told Her Majesty that I was not like 
the rest of the Court ladies who pretended they 
did not want to marry, when all the time they 
were simply looking forward to getting married, 
if only for the change from the monotony of 
Court life. I promised that I would stay with 
her forever, and that I had no desire to go away 
from China again. I explained that I should 
not have gone away at all had it not been that 
my father was transferred to Paris. Her Maj- 
esty said: "Oh, well, I am very glad that you 
did go away as you are more useful to me than 
you would have been had you stayed in China 
all your life." After a lot more discussion Her 
Majesty said: "Well, I will leave you to think 
the matter over. If you don't like the young 
man I have chosen there are plenty of others," 
which remark did not help me very much as I 
could see that she meant to marry me off any- 
way. However, I had managed to get out of it 
this time, and thought I would be able to arrange 



274 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

matters satisfactorily should the question come 
up again. Nothing further was said about 
the matter until nearly a month later when I 
heard that a marriage had been arranged be- 
tween this gentleman and the daughter of one 
of the princes. So everything ended very satis- 
factorily from my point of view. 

The twenty-sixth day of the eighth moon was 
the occasion of another celebration. At the time 
the Manchu Dynasty began. Emperor Shung 
Chih, who had fought very hard to gain the 
throne, found himself on the twenty-sixth day 
of the eighth moon, absolutely out of provi- 
sions of every kind and it was necessary for 
him and his army to live on the leaves of trees, 
which was the only form of food obtainable at 
the time. Thus the anniversary of this day, 
even up to the present time, is always cele- 
brated by the Manchu people, who deny them- 
selves all luxuries, especially at the Court. We 
did not eat any meat on that day, but only rice 
wrapped in lettuce leaves. Chopsticks were also 
discarded and the food was conveyed to the 
mouth by the hands alone. Even the Empress 
Dowager was no exception to this rule. This is 
done in order to remind the present generation 
of the privation suffered by their ancestors who 
established the Manchu Dynasty. 

Towards the close of the eighth moon Her 



THE MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL 275 

Majesty's gourd plants, which had been planted 
early in the spring, were ripening, and each day 
she would take us all to see what progress they 
were making. She would pick out those which 
she considered to be the most perfect in form, i. e., 
those with the smallest waist and tie ribbons 
around them so as not to lose sight of them. 
She pointed to one of these plants one day, and 
said to me: "This reminds me of yourself when 
dressed in foreign clothes. Surely you feel more 
comfortable in the clothes you are now wear- 
ing." When these gourds were quite ripe they 
were cut down and Her Majesty would scrape 
the outer skin with a bamboo knife, afterwards 
wiping the fruit with a wet cloth. They were 
then allowed to dry and after a few days they 
would assume a brownish color, when they were 
ready for hanging as ornaments in the Summer 
Palace. In one room alone there were over 
10,000 of these gourds, of different shapes. It 
was the duty of the Court ladies to periodically 
wipe these gourds with a cloth, in order to give 
them a shiny appearance, and also to scrape any 
new ones which were pulled and prepare them for 
the Palace. None of us cared very much about 
this work excepting Her Majesty. One day 
whilst attending to these gourds I happened to 
knock the top off one of the old ones which was 
Her Majesty's particular favorite. I dared not 



276 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

go and tell Her Majesty what had happened and 
one of the Court ladies suggested throwing the 
thing away altogether and saying nothing about 
it as Her Majesty would not be likely to find 
it out, having so many of them. However, I 
finally decided to go and tell Her Majesty about 
it, and take punishment if necessary. For 
a wonder Her Majesty did not make much 
bother about it. She said: "Well it was quite 
an old one in any case and the top was ready to 
drop off at any time ; it so happens that you were 
the one to wipe it, and of course it came off. It 
can't be helped." I told Her Majesty that I 
was very much ashamed at being so careless, es- 
pecially as I knew it was one of her favorites, 
and there the matter ended. All the rest of the 
Court ladies were in the waitingroom and were 
anxious to know how I would get out of it, and 
when I told them they said that had it been any 
of them there would have been a fine row. They 
laughed, and said it must be nice to be a favorite 
which made me feel very uncomfortable. I told 
the Young Empress exactly what had happened, 
and she said I was quite right to tell Her Maj- 
esty the truth and told me to be very careful as 
there was much jealousy going on. 

At the beginning of the ninth moon the chry- 
santhemums commence to bud and it was the 
duty of the ladies of the Court to go and trim 



THE MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL ^-77 

them each day by cutting away all the buds 
except one on each stalk. This trimming gives 
the flower a better chance of developing, a much 
larger blossom being the result. Even Her 
Majesty would help with this work. She was 
very particular about these plants, and would 
not allow any of us to meddle with them if our 
hands were not perfectly cool, as to touch them 
with hot hands would cause the leaves to shrivel 
up. These flowers are generally in full bloom 
about the end of the ninth moon or beginning of 
the tenth moon. Her Majesty had a wonder- 
ful gift of being able to tell what kind of flower 
would bloom from each separate plant, even be- 
fore the buds appeared. She would say: "This 
is going to be a red flower," and we would place 
a bamboo stick in the flower pot, with the name 
written on it. Then another, Her Majesty 
would declare to be a white one and we would 
place a similar bamboo stick in the flower pot, 
with the description, and so on. Her Majesty 
said: "This is your first year at the Palace and 
no doubt you are surprised at what you have 
just seen and heard me say, but I have never yet 
made a mistake. For you wiU see when the 
flowers commence to bloom." It was a fact as 
everything turned out exactly as she had pre- 
dicted. None of us ever knew how she was 
able to distinguish one from the other, but she 



278 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

was always right. I did once ask her to explain 
how she was able to tell but she answered that 
it was a secret. 

All this time the portrait was proceeding very 
slowly and one day Her Majesty asked me how 
long I thought it would be before it was finished 
and what the custom in Europe was as regards 
remuneration for such a portrait. I replied that 
it was customary to pay very handsomely, but 
she would not hear of such a suggestion, saying 
that in China it was not the custom and that it 
would be regarded as an insult to offer money 
for such a service. She suggested decorating 
Miss Carl as a reward for her services, which she 
considered would be appreciated far more than 
a money present. There was nothing for me to 
say at this time but I determined to mention the 
matter again when a favorable opportunity oc- 
curred. 

During the ninth moon a Russian circus vis- 
ited Peking and of course everybody talked of 
little else. Her Majesty, hearing so much 
talk about this circus asked what it was like, 
and after we had explained to her, she became 
very interested and said that she would like to 
see it. My mother thought it would be a good 
idea to have the circus brought up to the Summer 
Palace, where they could perform, so she asked 
Her Majesty whether this might be done. Her 



THE MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL 279 

Majesty was delighted with the idea, and ar- 
rangements were accordingly made for the per- 
formance. While everything was being fixed, 
the people belonging to the circus, and the 
animals, were quartered near our own house and 
we had to feed them at our own expense. How- 
ever, we wanted to show Her Majesty what a 
circus was like so the expense did not matter. 
It took them two days to erect the tent and 
make all necessary preparations, and during this 
time Her Majesty received reports as to what 
was being done, and the progress they were mak- 
ing. 

The day before the performance, we noticed 
that Her Majesty, on coming from her audience, 
looked very angry, and on our enquiring what 
was the matter she informed my mother and my- 
self that some censors had raised objections 
against having this circus in the Palace grounds, 
as there had never been anything of this kind al- 
lowed before and they had begged Her Majesty 
to give up the idea. Her Majesty was very an- 
gry, and said: "You see how much power I 
have here; I cannot even have a circus without 
somebody raising objections. I think we had 
better pay them something and let them go 
away." Of course we agreed to anything she 
thought best. After considering for a time Her 
Majesty jumped up and said: "They have the 



280 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

tent up already; they will talk just the same 
whether we have the circus or not; I will have 
it anyway." So the performance duly took 
place and Her Majesty and all the Court were 
dehghted. One item consisted of a young girl 
walking and dancing on a large globe. This 
especially pleased Her Majesty and she insisted 
on the performance being repeated several times. 
Another item of interest was the trapeze act. 
Of course nobody present with the exception of 
my mother, sister and myself had ever seen a cir- 
cus performance before, and Her Majesty was 
very much afraid that the man would fall from 
the trapeze and kill himself. Another thing 
which interested Her Majesty was the bare-back 
riding, which she thought simply wonderful. 
The only objection to the whole show which she 
raised was when it was suggested to bring in 
the lions and tigers, etc. She said it was not 
safe to bring wild beasts into the Palace and that 
she would rather not see this part of the per- 
formance. The proprietor of the circus, how- 
ever, brought in a small baby elephant which 
performed several clever tricks. This delighted 
Her Majesty more than anything else and when 
the proprietor saw how pleased she was he offered 
the elephant as a present, which she accepted. 
However, after the performance was over we 
tried to make him go through his tricks again 



THE MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL 281 

but he would not budge an inch, so we had to give 
it up as a bad job and send him away to be 
placed along with the other elephants belonging 
to the Palace. 

Altogether there were three performances 
given by the circus, and before the final per- 
formance, the circus Manager told me that he 
would very much like to show the lions and 
tigers: there was no chance of any accident and 
it really would be worth seeing. So after a lot 
of discussion Her Majesty finally consented to 
allow them to be brought in but on the distinct 
understanding that they should not be let out of 
their cages. 

When they were brought in the ring all the 
eunuchs gathered around Her Majesty, and after 
remaining in the ring for a few minutes Her 
Majesty ordered them to be taken away again. 
She said: "I am not afraid for myself, but they 
might get loose and hurt some of the people." 
This item finished the whole of the performance 
and the circus departed richer by some Taels 
10,000 which Her Majesty had ordered to be 
given to them. 

For the next couple of days we discussed the 
merits of the circus but afterwards, Her Maj- 
esty, when referring to the subject, expressed 
great disappointment with the whole thing. 
She said she had expected something entirely 



282 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

different and far more wonderful. This was an- 
other characteristic of Her Majesty; nothing 
pleased her for more than five minutes at a time. 
She said to me: "I don't see anything at all won- 
derful in foreign accomplishments. Take for 
instance this portrait which this lady is paint- 
ing. I don't think it is going to be at all a good 
picture, it seems so rough. (Her Majesty did not 
understand oil painting). Then again why 
should she always want to have the things before 
her while painting them. An ordinary Chinese 
artist could paint my dress, shoes, etc., after 
seeing the things once. She cannot be very much 
of an artist in my opinion, though you need not 
tell her that I said so." Continuing, Her Maj- 
esty said: "By the way, what do you talk about 
when you are posing for this portrait of mine; 
although I don't understand what she is saying, 
still I can see she has a lot to say. Be sure not to 
tell her anything connected with the Court life 
and do not teach her any Chinese. I hear that 
she often asks what different things are called 
in Chinese, but don't tell her. The less she 
knows the better for us. I can see that she has 
seen nothing of our ordinary Court life, as yet. 
I wonder what she would say if she were to see 
one of the eunuchs being punished, or anything 
like that. She would think that we were savages, 
I suppose. I noticed the other day, when I was 



THE MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL 283 

angry, that you took this lady artist away. This 
was very wise of you ; it is better that she should 
not see me in a temper, she might talk about it 
afterwards. I wish this portrait was finished. 
The cool weather is coming on and we have to 
open up the boxes and get our winter clothes 
ready. You girls need winter clothes I know 
as you have none but foreign dresses. Then, 
again, my birthday is next month and there 
will be the usual celebrations. After that we 
return to the Sea Palace, and what can we do 
with this artist? I suppose she will have to go 
back and stay at the American Legation and 
come to the Sea Palace each day until the work 
is finished. This will be a lot of trouble as it is 
not ten minutes' drive as at present, but nearer 
an hour's drive. And even if this can be satis- 
factorily arranged, what about the Winter Pal- 
ace in the Forbidden City? Try and get to know 
how long she expects to be before it is finished." 
This gave me an opportunity to tell Her Maj- 
esty that Miss Carl was just as anxious to get 
the work finished as she was to have it finished, 
but explained that Miss Carl had very little time 
to paint as Her Majesty could spare very little 
time to give personal sittings, and again, when 
Her Majesty went to lie down each afternoon, 
Miss Carl had to stop painting as she was work- 
ing in the next room to Her Majesty's bedroom. 



284s TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

Her Majesty replied: "Well, if she expects me 
to sit for her all day long I will give up the 
whole thing at once," and then added: "I think 
you yourself are getting tired of sitting, and 
want me to take it up again, but I have already 
had quite enough of it." Of course, I told her 
that instead of being tired of it, I enjoyed sitting 
on Her Throne, which I regarded as a great 
honor. I explained to Her Majesty that Miss 
Carl did not like me to pose in her place, as 
she could not get along so quickly as if she were 
to sit herself; but she simply said that I was 
acting under her commands, and that should be 
sufficient for me. 

For the next ten days we were kept very busy 
selecting materials for winter clothing and also 
official robes for my sister and myself to be worn 
during the forthcoming birthday celebrations. 
These dresses were full winter Court dresses, of 
red satin embroidered with golden dragons and 
blue clouds, and were trimmed with gold braid 
and lined with grey squirrel. The cuffs 
and collars (which were turned down) were of 
sable. While Her Majesty was giving one of 
the eunuchs instructions as to how these were to 
be made, the Young Empress beckoned to me, 
and I went out. She said: "You go and kow- 
tow to Her Majesty as it is a great favor for 
her to give you a dress trimmed with sable. This 



THE MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL 285 

is usually only worn by a Princess." So when I 
returned to the room I availed myself of the first 
opportunity to kowtow and thank Her Majesty 
for the great favor she had granted me. She 
answered: "You deserve it, and I see no reason 
why you should not be treated as a Princess any- 
way; many of the Princesses are not of the Im- 
perial family. Any title may be bestowed for 
special services rendered to the country and you 
have been of more help to me than any other 
Court lady I have ever had, and I can see that 
you are faithful in the discharge of your duties. 
You may think I do not notice these things, but 
I do. You are certainly entitled to be ranked 
as a Princess, and in fact I never treat you dif- 
ferent from the Princesses, but rather better in 
many ways." Turning to a eunuch she said: 
"Bring my fur cap here." This cap was made 
of sable, trimmed with pearls and jade and Her 
Majesty explained that our caps would be some- 
thing after the same style except that the crown, 
instead of being yellow as in the case of Her 
Majesty's cap, would be red. I was naturally 
delighted. In addition to the cap and full Court 
dress Her Majesty had two ordinary dresses 
made for everyday wear, one lined with sheep- 
skin and the other lined with grey squirrel. 
Then she gave us four other dresses of finer ma- 
terial, lined with black and white fox skin, and 



g86 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

all trimmed with gold braid and embroidered 
ribbons. In addition there were two other 
dresses, one of a pale pink color, embroidered 
with one hundred butterflies and the other of a 
reddish color embroidered with green bamboo 
leaves. Several short jackets, also lined with 
fur, were also included in Her Majesty's pres- 
ent, and several sleeveless jackets went to com- 
plete the lot. 

On coming out of the room, one of the Court 
ladies remarked that I was very lucky to receive 
so many clothes from Her Majesty and said that 
she had never received so many during the whole 
time she had been at the Palace — nearly ten 
years. I could see she was jealous. The young 
Empress, overhearing this conversation, joined 
us and told her that when I arrived at the Palace 
I had nothing but foreign clothes and how was I 
to manage if Her Majesty did not get me the 
proper dresses. This incident was the begin- 
ning of another unpleasant time for me with the 
ladies of the Court. At first I took no notice 
until one day one of the girls attached to the Pal- 
ace joined in the unkind remarks. She said that 
before my arrival she had been Her Majesty's 
particular favorite, but I gave her to understand 
that she had no right to discuss me in any way 
whatsoever. The Young Empress, who was 
present, spoke to them about their treatment of 



THE MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL 287 

me and said that some fine day I would be telling 
Her Majesty about it. This seemed to have a 
good effect for they never troubled me much 
afterwards with their talk. 



CHAPTER SIXTEEN 
THE SUMMER PALACE 

Just about the end of the ninth moon Her 
Majesty began to tire of doing nothing day after 
day, and said: "What is the use of waiting until 
the first of the month to have the theatrical per- 
formance? Let us have a performance to-mor- 
row." So she gave instructions for the eunuchs 
to prepare for the play, which should be staged 
without the assistance of any outside actors. I 
might here mention that certain of the eunuchs 
were specially trained as actors and used to study 
their parts every day. Indeed, they were far 
cleverer than the professionals from outside. 

Her Majesty gave the head eunuch the list 
of the plays she wished to be performed, which 
were for the most part dramatised fairy tales, and 
we had a performance the next day. 

After Her Majesty had gone to rest in the 
afternoon, during the theatrical performance I 
met the Emperor returning to his own Palace. 
I was surprised to see only one eunuch in attend- 
ance. This was the Emperor's own private 
eunuch and he trusted him implicitly. He asked 

288 



THE SUMMER PALACE 289 

me where I was going and I told him I was go- 
ing to my room to rest a while. He remarked 
that he had not seen me for quite a long time, 
which made me laugh as I saw him every morn- 
ing at the audience. He said: "I don't get 
as much chance of chatting with you as formerly 
since this portrait painting began. I am afraid 
I am not making much progress with my Eng- 
lish as I have nobody to help me now that your 
time is occupied with this lady artist. You ap- 
pear to enjoy her company very much. All the 
same I suppose it is very monotonous. Has she 
found out yet that you are there simply to keep 
an eye upon her?" I told him that I was very 
careful not to betray myself in any way and that 
I did not think she suspected she was being 
watched. 

The Emperor then said: "I understand there 
is a rumor to the effect that when this lady has 
finished Her Majesty's portrait she is going to 
paint mine. I should very much like to know 
who says so." I told him this was the first I 
had heard about it so could not say. I asked 
him whether he would like to have his portrait 
painted but he only answered: "That is rather a 
difficult question for me to answer. You know 
best whether I ought to have it painted or 
not. 

"I see Her Majesty having so many photo- 



290 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

graphs taken and even the eunuchs are in the 
picture." I understood at once what he meant, 
so I asked him if he wished me to take him 
with my Uttle kodak. He looked surprised and 
asked: "Can you take pictures, too? If it is not 
too risky for us, we might try it some day when 
we have an opportunity. Don't forget, but I 
think we must be very careful." 

He then changed the conversation by saying: 
"Well, now that we have time to talk I want to 
ask you a question and I expect you to answer 
me truly. What is the general opinion amongst 
the foreigners regarding myself? Do they con- 
sider me a man of character and do they think me 
clever? I am very anxious to know." Before 
I could say anything in answer to this question he 
continued: "I know very well that they regard 
me as nothing more than a boy, and as being of 
no consequence at all. Tell me, is not this so?" 
I replied that many foreigners had asked me 
about him — as to what kind of man he was, but 
that they had never expressed any opinion of 
their own regarding him excepting that they un- 
derstood he was in the best of health. "If any 
wrong impression does exist regarding myseF 
and my position at the Court," continued the 
Emperor, "it is owing to the very conservative 
customs of the Chinese Court. I am not ex- 
pected to either say or do anjrthing on my own 



THE SUMMER PALACE 291 

initiative, consequently outsiders never hear much 
about me and I am regarded as being nothing 
more than a figure-head. I know this is so. 
Whenever they ask you about me in the future 
just explain to them exactly what my position 
here is. I have plenty of ideas regarding the 
development of this country but you know I am 
not able to carry them out as I am not my own 
master. I don't think the Empress Dowager 
herself has sufficient power to alter the state of 
things existing in China at present, and even if 
she has, she is not willing to. I am afraid it will 
be a long time before anything can be done to- 
wards reform." 

The Emperor went on to say how nice it 
would be if he were allowed to travel about from 
place to place the same as the European mon- 
archs, but of course such a thing was out of the 
question for him. I told him that several Prin- 
cesses had expressed a wish to visit the St. Louis 
Exposition and said I thought it would be a good 
thing if that could be arranged as they would 
see for themselves the difference between their 
own country and customs and foreign countries 
and customs. The Emperor expressed doubts 
as to this permission being granted as such a 
thing had never been heard of before. 

We talked for quite a long time, mostly about 
foreign customs, and the Emperor remarked that 



TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

he would very much Hke to visit Europe and see 
for himself how things were carried on there. 

Just then one of my eunuchs came and said 
that Her Majesty was awake, so I had to hurry 
off to her room. 

We now arrive at the tenth moon. 

The first day it snowed, and the head eunuch 
enquired of Her Majestj^ whether it was her in- 
tention to celebrate her birthday at the Summer 
Palace as usual. As previously explained the 
Summer Palace was Her Majesty's favorite 
place of abode; so she replied in the affirmative 
and arrangements were accordingly made for the 
celebration to be held there as usual. The head 
eunuch then brought Her Majesty a list giving 
the names and ranks of all the Princesses and the 
names of the wives and daughters of the Manchu 
officials, and she selected those whom she wished 
to be present at the celebrations. On this occa- 
sion she selected forty-five ladies, who were duly 
informed that she desired their presence at the 
Palace. I was standing behind Her Majesty's 
chair all this time, and she turned and said : "Usu- 
ally I do not ask many people to my birthday 
celebrations, but on this occasion I have made an 
exception as I want you to see the way they dress 
and how ignorant they are of Court etiquette." 

The celebrations commenced on the sixth day 
of the tenth moon. Miss Carl, having returned 



THE SUMMER PALACE 293 

to the American Legation in Peking for the time 
being, my mother, my sister and myself went 
back to the Palace again. Early on the morn- 
ing of the sixth, the eunuchs decorated the 
verandas with different colored silks and hung 
lanterns all over the place and amongst the trees. 
At about seven o'clock in the morning the visitors 
began to arrive and I quite agreed with what 
Her Majesty had told me about them. The 
eunuchs introduced them to all the Court ladies, 
but they seemed to have very little to say, ap- 
pearing very shy. They were then conducted to 
the waitingroom, but there were so many of 
them that we Court ladies had to stand outside 
on the veranda. Some of them were very ex- 
pensively dressed, but their colors were, for the 
most part, very old fashioned, and their manners 
very awkward. We watched them for quite a 
while and then went off to report to Her Maj- 
esty. 

On such occasions as this Her Majesty was 
generally in pretty good spirits. She com- 
menced asking us a lot of questions. Amongst 
other things she asked whether we had noticed 
an elderly lady among the visitors, dressed as 
a bride. She explained that this lady was the 
only Manchu lady present who was married to 
a Chinese official, and had been invited because 
of her previous connection with the Court. Her 



294< TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

Majesty said she had never seen her herself, but 
understood that she was a very clever woman. 
We had not noticed such a person, and suggested 
that perhaps she had not yet arrived. 

Her Majesty dressed very quickly, and as 
soon as she was ready she came into the hall, 
where the head eunuch brought in the visitors and 
presented them to Her Majesty. We Court 
ladies were all standing in a row behind the 
Throne. As they came in, some kowtowed ; oth- 
ers courtesied, while others did not do anything 
at all, in fact nobody appeared to know what 
to do with herself. Her Majesty spoke a few 
words of welcome and thanked them for the 
presents they had sent her. 

I would like to say here that, contrary to the 
general idea which exists, Her Majesty always 
expressed her thanks for any present or service 
rendered, no matter how insignificant. 

Her Majesty could see plainly that everybody 
was embarrassed and ordered the head eunuch 
to show them to their respective rooms, and told 
them to make themselves at home and to go and 
take a rest. They hesitated a moment, not 
knowing whether to go or not, until Her 
Majesty said to us: "Take them and present 
them to the Young Empress." 

When we arrived at the Palace of the Young 
Empress they were duly presented and were not 



THE SUMMER PALACE 295 

nearly so shy as before. The Young Empress 
informed them that in case they desired to know 
anything or to be put right on any point of 
Court etiquette, the Court ladies would be 
pleased to give them all necessary information 
and she decided that the best way would be for 
each Court lady to have charge of so many of 
the visitors, as it would not be nice to have any 
mistakes occur during the ceremony, on the 
tenth. So we each were allotted so many guests 
and had to look after them and instruct them how 
to act on the different occasions. 

During Her Majesty's afternoon rest I paid 
a visit to the guests I was to take charge of. 
Among them was the bride referred to by Her 
Majesty. So I went and made myself agree- 
able to her and found her very interesting. 
She had evidently received a good education, un- 
like the majority of Manchu ladies, as I found 
she could read and write Chinese exception- 
ally well. I then explained to all of them what 
they would have to do, and how to address 
Her Majesty, should it be necessary to do so. 
I don't know whether I have mentioned it pre- 
viously, but whenever anybody spoke to Her 
Majesty, they always addressed her as "Great 
Ancestor," and when referring to themselves, 
instead of the pronoun "I," they would say 
"Your slave." In all Manchu families a sim- 



^96 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

ilar rule is observed, the pronouns "You" and 
*'I" being dispensed with and the titles "Mother" 
and "Father" and the son's or daughter's first 
name being substituted. 

Her Majesty was very particular about this 
rule being strictly observed. 

For the next four days, until the day of the 
ceremony, these visitors passed their time in 
learning the Court etiquette and going to the 
theatre. 

Every morning, as usual, we waited on Her 
Majesty and reported anything of interest which 
had occurred during the previous day. Then 
we all preceded Her Majesty to the theatre, 
where we awaited her arrival standing in the 
courtyard. On Her Majesty appearing, we 
would all kneel down until she had passed into 
the building opposite the stage, kneeling in rows 
— first the Emperor, behind him the Young 
Princess, next the Secondary wife, then the 
Princesses and Court ladies, and last of all the 
visitors. The first two days everything went off 
all right, but on the third morning the Emperor, 
from whom we received the signal, suddenly 
turned and said: "Her Majesty is coming." 
Down we all went on our knees, the Emperor 
alone remaining standing and laughing at us. 
Of course there was no sign of Her Majesty and 
everybody joined in the laugh. He was never 



THE SUMMER PALACE 297 

so happjr as when he could work off a joke like 
this. 

On the evening of the ninth, none of the Court 
ladies went to bed, as we all had to be up betimes 
on the morning of the tenth. The visitors were 
told to proceed by chair to Her Majesty's spe- 
cial Audience Hall on the top of the hill, where 
they were to await our arrival. They arrived at 
the Audience Hall at three o'clock in the morn- 
ing, and we followed soon afterwards, arriving 
there about daybreak. By and bye Her Majesty 
arrived and the ceremony commenced. This 
ceremony in no way differed from the one pre- 
viously described in connection with the Em- 
peror's birthday, so there is no need to give par- 
ticulars, except one thing. Very early on the 
morning of the tenth, we had to bring another 
present to her and each of us brought a hun- 
dred birds of various kinds. Each year, on her 
birthday, Her Majesty did a very peculiar 
thing. She would buy 10,000 birds with her 
own money, from her private purse and set them 
free. It was a very pretty sight to see those 
huge cages hung in the courtyard of the Au- 
dience Hall. Her Majesty would select the 
most lucky hour and order the eunuchs to carry 
the cages and to follow her. The hour selected 
was four o'clock in the afternoon. Her Maj- 
esty took the whole Court with her to the top 



298 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

of the hill, where there was a Temple. First 
she burnt sandal wood and offered up prayers to 
the Gods, then the eunuchs, each with a cage of 
birds, knelt in front of Her Majesty and she 
opened each cage one after another and watched 
the birds fly away, and prayed to the Gods that 
these birds should not be caught again. Her 
Majesty did this very seriously and we asked 
each other in whispers which bird we thought 
was the prettiest and would like to keep it for 
ourselves. Among this lot there were a few par- 
rots. Some were pink; others were red and 
green; all were chained on stands, and when the 
eunuchs broke the chains, the parrots would not 
move. Her Majesty said: "How funny; each 
year a few parrots will not go away at all and 
I have kept them until they died. Look at them 
now. They won't go away." By tlxis time the 
head eunuch arrived. Her Majesty told him 
what had happened and he immediately knelt 
down and said: "Your Majesty's great luck. 
These parrots understand Y'our Majesty's kind- 
ness and would rather stay here and serve Your 
Majesty." This ceremony is called "Fang 
Sheng." It is considered a very meritorious ac- 
tion and will not fail of reward in Heaven. 

One of the Court ladies asked me what I 
thought of the parrots that would not fly away, 
and I told her that it was really very strange. 



THE SUMMER PALACE 299 

She said: "It is very simple and not strange at 
all. These eunuchs, ordered by the head one, 
have bought these parrots long ago and trained 
them. During Her Majesty's afternoon rest, 
these parrots were brought to the top of the 
very same hill every day to accustom them to the 
place. The object of this is just to please and 
otherwise fool Her Majesty, to make her feel 
happy and believe that she is so merciful that 
even such dumb things would rather stay with 
her." Continuing, she said: "The huge joke is 
this : while Her Maj esty is letting the birds free, 
there are a few eunuchs waiting at the rear of the 
hill to capture them and sell them again, and so, 
no matter how Her Majesty prays for their free- 
dom, they will be caught at once." 

The celebrations were continued until the thir- 
teenth day. Nobody did any work and all was 
gaiety and enjoyment, the theatre being open 
every day. Towards the close of the thirteenth 
day the visitors were informed that the celebra- 
tions were at an end and they made arrange- 
ments to leave early the next morning. They 
all bade Her Majesty good-bye that evening and 
departed early the following day. 

For the next few days we were all busy pre- 
paring for removing to the Sea Palace. Her 
Majesty consulted her book and finally selected 
the 22d as being the most favorable day for this 



800 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

removal. So at six o'clock on the morning of 
the 22d the whole Court left the Summer Palace. 
It was snowing very heavily and the journey was 
only accomplished with great difficulty. Of 
course we were all in chairs, as usual, and the 
eunuchs who were not employed as chair-bearers 
rode horseback. Many of the horses fell on the 
slippery stones and one of Her Majesty's chair- 
bearers also slipped and brought Her Majesty 
to the ground. All of a sudden I thought some- 
thing dreadful had happened, horses galloping 
and eunuchs howling: "Stop! Stop!!" I heard 
someone saying: "See if she is still alive." The 
whole procession stopped and blocked the way. 
This happened on the stone road just before 
entering the Western Gate. Finally we saw 
that Her Majesty's chair was renting on the 
ground, so we all alighted and went forward to 
see what had happened. A great many people 
were talking excitedly all at the same time, and 
for a moment I was rather frightened (for just 
about that time we heard a rumor that some of 
the revolutionists were going to take the life of 
the whole Court, and, although we heard that, 
we did not dare tell Her Majesty), so I imme- 
diately went to her chair and found her sitting 
there composedly giving orders to the chief 
eunuch not to punish this chair-bearer, for he was 
not to blame, the stones being wet and very slip- 




Emperor's Coffin carried by " 600 " Pole-bearers 




Umbrella Carriers in the Funeral 



THE SUMMER PALACE 301 

pery. Li Lien Ying said that would never do, 
for this chair-bearer must have been careless, and 
how dare he carry the Old Buddha in this careless 
way. After saying this, he turned his head to 
the beaters (these beaters, carrying bamboo 
sticks, went everywhere with the Court, for such 
occasions as this) and said: "Give him eighty 
blows on his back." This poor victim, who was 
kneeling on the muddy ground, heard the order. 
The beaters took him about a hundred yards 
away from us, pushed him down and started to 
do their duty. It did not take very long to give 
the eighty blows and, much to my surprise, this 
man got up, after receiving the punishment, as 
if nothing had happened to him. He looked just 
as calm as could be. While we were waiting a 
eunuch handed me a cup of tea, which I pre- 
sented to Her Majesty, and asked her if she was 
hurt. She smiled and said it was nothing, or- 
dering us to proceed on our journey. I must 
explain about this tea; the eunuchs had it pre- 
pared all the time and always carried a little 
stove along with hot water. Although this went 
every time when the Court moved, it was seldom 
used. 

As usual, all the Court ladies take a short cut 
to the Palace, so as to be ready to receive Her 
Majesty, when she arrived. After waiting in 
the courtyard for quite a long time, during which 



30£ TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

we were nearly frozen, Her Majesty arrived, and 
we all knelt until she had passed, and then fol- 
lowed her into the Palace. Her Majesty also 
complained of the cold and ordered that fires 
should be brought into the hall. These fires 
were built in brass portable stoves lined with clay, 
and were lighted outside and brought into the 
hall after the smoke had passed off somewhat. 
There were four stoves in all. All the windows 
and doors were closed, there being no ventilation 
of any description, and very soon I began to 
feel sick. However, I went on with my work 
getting Her Majesty's things in order until I 
must have fainted, for the next thing I remem- 
bered was waking up in a strange bed and inquir- 
ing where I was, but on hearing Her Majesty 
giving orders in the next room, I knew it was 
all right. One of the Court ladies brought me 
a cup of turnip juice which Her Majesty said 
I was to drink. I drank it and felt much better. 
I was informed that Her Majesty had gone to 
rest, and so I went off to sleep again myself. 
When I awoke, Her Majesty was standing by 
my bedside. I tried to get up, but found that I 
was too weak, so Her Majesty told me to lie still 
and keep quiet and I would soon be all right 
-again. She said that I had better have a room 
close to her bedroom, and gave instructions for 
the ennuchs to remove me there as soon as it was 



THE SUMMER PALACE 303 

prepared. Every few minutes Her Majesty 
would send to inquire how I was progressing and 
whether I wanted anything to eat. It was the 
custom to stand up whenever receiving a message 
from Her Majesty, but it was out of the ques- 
tion for me to do so, although I tried, with the 
result that I made myself worse than ever. 

Towards evening the head eunuch came to see 
me and brought several plates of sweetmeats. 
He was very nice, and told me that I was very 
fortunate, as Her Majesty very rarely bothered 
herself about any of the Court ladies and that 
evidently she had taken a fancy to me. He sat 
talking for some little time, and told me to eat 
some of the sweetmeats. Of course I was not 
able to eat anything at all, let alone sweetmeats, 
so I told him to leave them and I would eat 
them later. Before leaving he said that in case 
I wanted anything I was to let him know. This 
visit was a great surprise to me, as usually he 
took very little notice of any of us, but I was 
told afterwards that the reason he was so nice 
was because Her Majesty showed such an inter- 
est in me. 

The next morning I was able to get up and 
resume my duties. I went in to see Her Majesty 
and kowtowed to her, thanking her for her kind- 
ness during my indisposition. Her Majesty said 
that the head eunuch had told her the previous 



304 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

evening that I was much better and that she was 
glad I was up and about again. She said it was 
nothing serious, simply that I was unaccustomed 
to the fumes from the fires, which had gone to 
my head. 

As the snow had stopped falling. Her Majesty 
decided that the next day we would go and 
choose a place for Miss Carl to continue the 
painting. I suggested that perhaps it would be 
better if we waited until Miss Carl arrived her- 
self, so that she could choose a suitable place for 
her work, but Her Majesty said that would not 
do at all, because if it were left to Miss Carl, 
doubtless she would choose some impossible 
place. Of course there were many parts of the 
Palace which were kept quite private and Miss 
Carl would not be allowed to go there. So 
the next day Her Majesty and myself set out 
to find a place. After visiting many different 
rooms, all of which were too dark, we finally 
fixed on a room on the lake side of the Palace. 
Her Majesty said: "This is very convenient, as 
you can go to and fro either by chair or by water. 
I found that it took about three-quarters of 
an hour by chair to get to the Palace Gate, and 
rather less than that by boat. I was expecting 
to return to stay at the Palace with Her Majesty, 
but it was finally decided that this would not do, 
as it would not be policy to allow Miss Carl, 



THE SUMMER PALACE 305 

who was staying at the American Legation, to 
go in and out of the Palace Gate alone, so Her 
Majesty said it would be better for me to stay 
at my father's place in the city and bring Miss 
Carl to the Palace each morning, returning with 
her in the evening. This was anything but 
pleasant, but I had no other alternative than to 
obey Her Majesty's instructions. 

When Miss Carl arrived at the Palace the 
next day and saw the room which had been 
selected for her to work in, she was not at all 
pleased. In the first place she said it was too 
dark, so Her Majesty ordered the paper win- 
dows to be replaced by glass. This made the 
room too bright, and Miss Carl asked for some 
curtains so as to focus the light on the picture. 
When I informed Her Majesty of this request, 
she said: "Well, this is the first time I have ever 
changed anything in the Palace except to suit 
myself. First I alter the windows, and she is 
not satisfied, but must have curtains. I think 
we had better take the roof off, then perhaps 
she may be suited." However, we fixed up the 
curtains to Miss Carl's satisfaction. 

When Her Majesty examined the portrait to 
see how it was progressing, she said to me: 
"After all the trouble we have had over this pic- 
ture, I am afraid it is not going to be anything 
verjr wonderful. I notice that the pearls in my 



306 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

cape are painted in different colors; some look 
white, some pink, while others are green. You 
tell her about it." I tried to explain to Her 
Majesty that Miss Carl had simply painted the 
pearls as she saw them, according to the different 
shades of light, but Her Majesty could not 
understand that at all and asked if I could see 
anything green about them, or pink either. I 
again explained that this was simply the tints 
caused by the light falling on the pearls, but she 
replied that she could not see any shade except 
white. However, after a while she did not seem 
to trouble any further about the matter. 

Situated in a room near Her Majesty's bed- 
room in the Sea Palace was a Pagoda, about ten 
feet in height, made of carved sandalwood. This 
contained various images of Buddha, which Her 
Majesty used to worship every morning. The 
ceremony consisted of Her Majesty burning 
incense before the Pagoda, while a Court lady 
was told off each day to kowtow before the 
images. Her Majesty told me that this Pagoda 
had been in the Palace for more than a hundred 
years. Among the different images was one 
representing the Goddess of Mercy. This im- 
age was only about five inches in height and was 
made of pure gold. The inside was hollow and 
contained all the principal anatomical parts of 
the human body, made out of jade and pearls. 



THE SUMMER PALACE 307 

This Goddess of Mercy was supposed to possess 
wonderful powers and Her Majesty often wor- 
shiped before it when in any trouble, and main- 
tained that on many occasions her prayers had 
been answered. She said: "Of course, when I 
pray to the image, I pray earnestly, not the same 
as you girls, who simply kowtow because it is 
your duty and then get away as quickly as pos- 
sible." Her Majesty went on to say that she 
was quite aware that many of the people in 
China were discarding the religion of their 
ancestors in favor of Christianity, and that she 
was very much grieved that this was so. 

Her Majesty was a firm believer in the old 
Chinese superstitions connected with the Sea 
Palace, and during one of our conversations she 
told me I was not to be surprised at anything I 
saw. She said it was quite a common occurrence 
for a person walking beside you to suddenly dis- 
appear altogether, and explained that they were 
simply foxes who took human shape to suit their 
purpose. They had probably lived in the Sea 
Palace for thousands of years and possessed this 
power of changing their form at will. She said 
that no doubt the eunuchs would tell me they 
were spirits or ghosts, but that was not true : they 
were sacred foxes and would harm nobody. As 
if to confirm this superstition, one evening, a few 
days later, my fire having gone out, I sent my 



808 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

eunuch to see if any of the other Court ladies 
were awake, and if so, to try to get me some hot 
water. He went out taking his lantern along 
with him, but he returned almost immediately 
with a face as white as chalk. On inquiring 
what was the matter, he replied: "I have seen a 
ghost: a woman, who came up to me, blew the 
light out and disappeared." I told him that per- 
haps it was one of the servant girls, but he said 
"No"; he knew all the women attached to the 
Palace and he had never seen this one before. 
He stuck to it that it was a ghost. I told him 
that Her Majesty had said there were no ghosts, 
but that it might be a fox which had taken human 
shape. He replied: "It was not a fox. Her 
Majesty calls them foxes, because she is afraid 
to call them ghosts." He went on to tell me that 
many years previously the head eunuch, Li Lien 
Ying, while walking in the courtyard back of 
Her Majesty's Palace, saw a young servant girl 
sitting on the edge of the well. He went over 
to ask her what she was doing there, but on get- 
ting closer he found that there were several other 
girls there also, and on seeing him approach, they 
all deliberately jumped down the well. He 
immediately raised the alarm, and on one of the 
attendants coming forward with a lantern, he 
explained what had occurred. The attendant 
showed him that it was impossible for anybody 



THE SUMMER PALACE 309 

to jump into the well, as it was covered with a 
large stone. My eunuch said that a long time 
before this several girls did actually commit sui- 
cide by jumping down this well, and that what 
Li Lien Ying had seen were the ghosts of these 
girls, and nothing more. It is believed by the 
Chinese that when a person commits suicide 
their spirit remains in the neighborhood until 
such time as they can entice somebody else to 
commit suicide, when they are free to go to 
another world, and not before. I told him that 
I did not believe such things and that I would 
very much like to see for myself. He replied: 
*'You will only want to see it once; that will be 
sufficient." 

Things went along in the usual way until the 
first day of the eleventh moon, when Her 
Majesty issued orders to the Court that as the 
eleventh moon contained so many anniversaries 
of the deaths of previous rulers of China, the 
usual theatrical performance would be eliminated 
and the Court dress would in addition be modi- 
fied to suit the occasion. On the ninth day the 
Emperor was to go and worship at the Temple 
of Heaven. So, as was customary on all these 
occasions, he confined himself to his own private 
apartments for three days before the ninth, dur- 
ing which time he held no communication whatso- 
ever with anybody excepting his private eunuchs. 



310 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

Not even the Young Empress, his wife, was 
allowed to see him during these three days. 

This ceremony did not differ very materially 
from the other sacrifices, except that pigs were 
killed and placed on the numerous altars of the 
Temple, where they remained for a time, after 
which they were distributed among the different 
officials. The eating of the flesh of these pigs, 
which had been blessed, was believed to bring 
good luck and prosperity, and the officials who 
were presented with them considered themselves 
greatly favored by Her Majesty. Another dif- 
ference was that the Emperor could not appoint 
a substitute to officiate for him ; but must attend 
in person, no matter what the circumstances 
might be. The reason for this was, that accord- 
ing to the ancient law, the Emperor signs the 
death warrant of every person sentenced to 
death, record of which is kept in the Board of 
Punishments. At the end of the year the name 
of each person executed is written on a piece of 
yellow paper and sent to the Emperor. When 
the time for worshiping at the Temple arrives, 
he takes this yellow paper and burns it in order 
that the ashes may go up to Heaven and his an- 
cestors know that he has been fearless and faith- 
ful, and has done his duty according to the law. 

As this ceremony of worshiping at the Tem- 
ple of Heaven was to take place in the For- 



THE SUMMER PALACE 311 

bidden City, in spite of Her Majesty's dislike 
to the place, she commanded that the whole of 
the Court be transferred there, her reason for 
this being that she did not wish to be away 
from the Emperor's side even for an hour. So 
we all moved to the Palace in the Forbidden 
City. After the ceremony was over, the Court 
was to return to the Sea Palace, but as the thir- 
teenth day was the anniversary of the death of 
the Emperor Kang Hsi, it was decided that we 
should remain in the Forbidden City, where the 
ceremony was to be held. The Emperor Kang 
Hsi ruled over the Chinese Empire for sixty-one 
years, the longest reign of any Chinese Ruler 
up to the present time, and Her Majesty told 
us that he was the most wonderful Emperor 
China had ever had and that we must respect 
his memorj^ accordingly. 



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN 

THE AUDIENCE HALL 

On the fourteenth day of the eleventh moon, 
after the morning audience, Her Majesty 
informed us that there was a likehhood of war 
breaking out between Russia and Japan and 
that she was very much troubled, as although it 
actually had nothing whatever to do with China, 
she was afraid they would fight on Chinese terri- 
tory and that in the long run China would suffer 
in some way or other. Of course we did not 
bother ourselves about it much at the moment, 
but the next morning the head eunuch reported 
to Her Majesty that fifty eunuchs were missing. 
As there was no apparent reason for this, every- 
body was much excited. There was no rule 
against any of the eunuchs going into the city 
after their duties were ended, providing they 
returned before the Palace Gate was closed, but 
when on the following morning it was reported 
that another hundred eunuchs had also disap- 
peared. Her Majesty at once said: "I know now 
what the trouble is; they must have heard what 
I said about this war coming on and are afraid 

312 



THE AUDIENCE HALL 313 

there may be a repetition of the Boxer trouble, 
and so they have cleared out." It was the cus- 
tom whenever a eunuch was missing to send 
out search parties and have him brought back 
and punished, but in the present instance Her 
Majesty gave instructions that nothing was to 
be done about recapturing them. One morn- 
ing, however, one of Her Majesty's personal 
attendants was missing, which m.ade her furious. 
She said that she had been very kind to this 
particular eunuch in many ways, and this was 
all the thanks she got; he ran away at the first 
sign of trouble. I myself had noticed how good 
she had been to this eunuch, but I was not really 
sorry that he had left, as he used to take ad- 
vantage of every opportunity of getting some of 
the Court ladies into trouble. 

These disappearances continued from day to 
day until Her Majesty decided that it would 
be safer for us to remain in the Forbidden City 
until the following spring at any rate. 

On inquiring from my eunuch the cause of 
these disappearances, he said that it was just as 
Her Majesty suspected; they were afraid of get- 
ting mixed up in another such affair as the Boxer 
trouble, and added that he was not a bit sur- 
prised at Her Majesty's favorite eunuch going 
along with the rest. He further told me that 
even Li Lien Ying himself was not to be abso- 



S14< TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

lutely relied upon, as at the time of Her 
Majesty's leaving Peking for Shi An during the 
Boxer movement, he had feigned sickness, and 
followed a little later, so that in the event of 
anything happening, he vrould be able to return 
and make his escape. While talking about Li 
Lien Ying, my eunuch told me in confidence that 
he was responsible for the death of many inno- 
cent people, mostly eunuchs. He had unlimited 
power at the Court, and it was very easy for him 
to get anybody put away who offended him or 
to whom, for some reason or another, he took a 
dislike. Furthermore, the eunuch informed me 
that, although not generally known, Li Lien 
Ying was addicted to opium-smoking, which 
habit he indulged in very freely. Even Her 
Majesty was unaware of this, as opium-smoking 
was strictly forbidden in the Palace. 

Each morning there was fresh news regarding 
the trouble between Russia and Japan, and of 
course everybody gradually became very much 
excited at the Palace. One day Her Majesty 
summoned the whole of the Court to a special 
audience and there informed us that there was 
no need for us to get excited at all; that if any 
trouble did occur, it was none of our business 
and we should not be interfered with, as the 
spirits of our ancestors were watching over us, 
and she did not want to hear any more talk 



THE AUDIENCE HALL 315 

and gossip on the subject. However, she sum- 
moned all of the Court ladies to her apartment 
and there commanded us to pray to the spirits 
of our ancestors to protect us, which plainly 
showed that she was just as much worried as 
we were ourselves. In spite of what she had 
said with reference to gossipping about this 
trouble, Her Majesty often spoke about it her- 
self, and during one of our conversations she said 
she wished she could get information each day 
as to what was actually occurring, so I suggested 
that it would be very easy to get all the lat- 
est news by taking the foreign papers and also 
Renter's specials. Her Majesty jumped at the 
suggestion and told me to have these sent each 
day to my father's house in his name, and have 
them brought to che Palace, where I could trans- 
late them for her. I told her that my father 
received all these papers as they were published, 
so I arranged that they should be brought along 
as directed by Her Majesty. Each morning dur- 
ing the audience I translated into Chinese all the 
war news, but the telegrams began to arrive so 
rapidly that it soon became quite impossible for 
me to write them all out in Chinese, so I told 
Her Majesty that I would read and translate 
them into Chinese as they arrived. This was 
much quicker and interested Her Majesty so 
much that she insisted on my not only translating 



316 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

the war news, but everything else of interest in 
the papers. Especially was she interested in all 
news appertaining to the movements, etc., of the 
crowned heads of Europe, and was very plainly 
astonished when she learned that their every 
movement was known. She said: "Here, at any 
rate, it is more private, for nobody outside the 
Palace ever knows what is going on inside, not 
even my own people. It would be a good thing 
if they did know a little more, then perhaps all 
these rumors about the Palace would stop." 

Of course, during our stay in the Forbidden 
City, Miss Carl attended each morning to work 
on the portrait. We had given her a nice room, 
which seemed to suit her very well, and Her 
Majesty had instructed me to let her have every 
convenience possible to assist her, as she was 
getting tired of the business and would like to 
see it finished quickly. Her Majesty hardly 
ever went near the place herself, but when she 
did go, she would be most affable and, really, one 
would think that it was the greatest pleasure 
of her life to go and inspect the portrait. 

Things went very slowly during this eleventh 
moon on account of the Court being in mourn- 
ing, so one day Her Majesty suggested that 
she should show us round the Forbidden City. 
First we proceeded to the Audience Hall. This 
differs somewhat from the Audience Hall of the 



THE AUDIENCE HALL 317 

Summer Palace. To enter, one must mount 
some twenty odd steps of white marble, with 
rails on either side of the steps made of the same 
material. At the top of the steps a large 
veranda, supported by huge pillars of wood, 
painted red, surrounded the building. The win- 
dows along this verandah were of marvellously 
carved trellis-work, designed to represent the 
character "Shou" arranged in different positions. 
Then we entered the hall itself. The floor is of 
brick, and Her Majesty told us that all these 
bricks were of solid gold and had been there for 
centuries. They were of a peculiar black color, 
doubtless painted over, and were so slippery that 
it was most difficult to keep on one's feet. The 
furnishing was similar to that in the Audience 
Halls in the Summer Palace and in the Sea Pal- 
ace, with the exception that the throne w^as made 
of dark brown wood inlaid with jade of different 
colors. 

The Hall was only used for audience on very 
rare occasions, such as the birthday of the 
Empress Dowager and New Year's Day, and no 
foreigner has ever entered this building. All the 
usual audiences were held in a smaller building 
in the Forbidden City. 

After spending some little time in the Audi- 
ence Hall, we next visited the Emperor's quar- 
ters. These were much smaller than those 



318 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

occupied by Her Majesty, but were very elab- 
orately furnished. There were thirty-two rooms, 
many of which were never used, but all were fur- 
nished in the same expensive style. In the rear 
of this building was the Palace of the Young 
Empress, which was smaller still, having about 
twenty-four rooms in all, and in the same build- 
ing three rooms were set apart for the use of the 
Secondary wife of the Emperor. Although 
close together, the Palaces of the Emperor and 
his wife were not connected by any entrance, but 
both buildings were surrounded by verandas 
connecting with Her Majesty's apartments, 
which were quite a distance away. There were 
several other buildings, which were used as wait- 
ingrooms for visitors. In addition to the above, 
there were several buildings which were not used 
at all; these were sealed and nobody seemed to 
know what they contained, or whether they con- 
tained anything at all. Even Her Majesty said 
she had never been inside these buildings, as they 
had been sealed for many years. Even the 
entrance to the enclosure containing these build- 
ings was always closed, and this was the only 
occasion that any of us ever even passed through. 
They were quite different in appearance from 
any other buildings in the Palace, being very dirty 
and evidently of great age. We were com- 
manded not to talk about the place at all. 



THE AUDIENCE HALL 319 

The apartments of the Court ladies were con- 
nected with those of Her Majesty, but the rooms 
were so small one could hardly turn round in 
them; also they were very cold in winter. The 
servants' quarters were at the end of our apart- 
ments, but there was no entrance and they could 
only be reached by passing along our veranda, 
while the only entrance we ourselves had to our 
rooms was by passing along Her Majesty's ver- 
anda. This was Her Majesty's own idea, in or- 
der that she could keep an eye on all of us and 
could see when we either went out or came in. 

Her Majesty now conducted us to her own 
Palace, and pausing a little said: "I will now 
show you something which will be quite new to 
you." We entered a room adjoining her bed- 
room, which was connected by a narrow passage 
some fifteen feet in length. On either side the 
walls were painted and decorated very beauti- 
fully. Her Majesty spoke to one of the eunuch 
attendants, who stooped down and removed from 
the ground at each end of tliis passage two 
wooden plugs which were fitted into holes in the 
basement. I then began to realize that what I 
had hitherto regarded as solid walls were in real- 
ity sliding panels of wood. These panels when 
opened revealed a kind of grotto. There were 
no windows, but in the roof was a skylight. At 
one end of this room or grotto was a large rock, 



320 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

on the top of which was a seat with a yellow 
cushion, and beside the cushion an incense 
burner. Everything had the appearance of 
being very old. The room contained no furni- 
ture of any description. One end of this room 
led into another passage similar to the one 
already described, having sliding panels, which 
led into another grotto, and so on; in fact the 
whole of the palace walls were intersected by 
these secret passages, each concealing an inner 
room. Her Majesty told us that during the 
Ming dynasty these rooms had been used for 
various purposes, principally by the Emperor 
when he wished to be alone. One of these secret 
rooms was used by Her Majesty as a treasure 
room where she kept her valuables. During the 
time of the Boxer trouble, she hid all her val- 
uables here before she fled. When she returned 
and opened this secret room she found every- 
thing intact, not one of the vandals who ran- 
sacked the Palace even suspecting there was such 
a place. 

We returned to our veranda, and on looking 
around for the rooms we had just vacated, could 
see nothing excepting black stone walls, so well 
were they hidden. One of the principal reasons 
for Her Majesty's dislike to the Forbidden City 
was the mysteries which it contained, many of 
which she did not know of herself. She said: 



THE AUDIENCE HALL 321 

"I don't even talk about these places at all, as 
people might think that they were used for all 
kinds of purposes." 

While at the Palace in the Forbidden City I 
met the three Secondary wives of the previous 
Emperor Tung Chi, son of the Empress Dow- 
ager, who, since the death of the Emperor, had 
resided in the Forbidden City and spent their 
time in doing needlework, etc., for Her Majesty. 
When I got to know them I found that they 
were highly educated, one of them, Yu Fai, being 
exceptionally clever. She could write poetry 
and play many musical instruments, and was 
considered to be the best educated lady in the 
Empire of China. Her knowledge of western 
countries and their customs surprised me very 
much; she seemed to know a little bit of every- 
thing. I asked how it was that I had never 
seen them before, and was informed that they 
never visited Her Majesty unless commanded by 
her to do so, but that when Her Majesty stayed 
in the Forbidden City, of course they had to call 
and pay their respects each day. One day I 
received an invitation to visit them in their Pal- 
ace. This was separated from all the other 
buildings in the city. It was rather a small 
building, and very simply furnished, with just a 
few eunuchs and servant girls to wait upon them. 
They said they preferred this simple life, as they 



322 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

never received any visitors and had nobody to 
please but themselves. Yu Fai's room was lit- 
erally packed with literature of all descriptions. 
She showed me several poems which she had 
written, but they were of a melancholy character, 
plainly showing the trend of her thoughts. She 
was in favor of establishing schools for the edu- 
cation of young girls, as only very few could 
even read or write their own language, and she 
suggested that I should speak to Her Majesty 
about it at the first opportunity. In spite of her 
desire to see western reforms introduced into 
China, however, she was not in favor of employ- 
ing missionary teachers, as these people always 
taught their religion at the expense of other sub- 
jects, which she feared would set the Chinese 
against the movement. 

Toward the end of the eleventh moon Her 
Majesty granted an audience to the Viceroy of 
Chihli, Yuan Shih Kai, and as this particular day 
was a holiday and Miss Carl was absent, I was 
able to attend. Her Majesty asked him for his 
opinion of the trouble between Russia and Japan. 
He said that although these two countries might 
make war against each other, China would not 
be implicated in any way, but that after the 
war was over, there was sure to be trouble 
over Manchuria. Her Majesty said she was 
quite aware of that, as they were fighting on 



THE AUDIENCE HALL 323 

Chinese territory, and that the best thing for 
China to do would be to keep absolutely neutral 
in the matter, as she had quite enough of war 
during the China-Japan war. She said it would 
be best to issue orders to aU the officials to see 
that the Chinese did not interfere in any way, 
so as not to give any excuse for being brought 
into the trouble. 

She then asked his opinion as to what would 
be the result in the event of war — ^who would 
win. He said that it was very hard to say, but 
that he thought Japan would win. Her Majesty 
thought that if Japan were victorious, she would 
not have so much trouble over the matter, 
although she expressed doubts as to the outcome, 
saying that Kussia was a large country and had 
many soldiers, and that the result was far from 
certain. 

Her Majesty then spoke about the condition 
of things in China. She said that in case China 
were forced into war with another nation, we 
should be nowhere. We had nothing ready, no 
navy and no trained army, in fact nothing to 
enable us to protect ourselves. Yuan Shih Kai, 
however, assured her there was no need to antici- 
pate any trouble at present so far as China was 
concerned. Her Majesty replied that in any 
event it was time China began to wake up and 
endeavor to straighten things out in some wajr 



SM TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

or other, but she did not know where to begin; 
that it was her ambition to see China holding a 
prominent position among the nations of the 
world and that she was constantly receiving 
memorials suggesting this reform and that 
reform, but that we never seemed to get any 
further. 

After this audience was over, Her Majesty 
held an audience with the Grand Council. She 
told them what had been said during her inter- 
view with Yuan Shih Kai, and of course they all 
agreed that something should be done. Several 
suggestions were discussed with regard to na- 
tional defense, etc., but a certain Prince said 
that although he was in perfect sympathy with 
reform generally, he was very much against the 
adoption of foreign clothing, foreign modes of 
living, and the doing away with the queue. Her 
Majesty quite agreed with these remarks and 
said that it would not be wise to change any 
Chinese custom for one which was less civilized. 
As usual, nothing definite was decided upon 
when the audience was over. 

For the next few days nothing was talked of 
but the war, and many Chinese generals were 
received in audience by Her Majesty. These 
audiences were sometimes very amusing, as these 
soldiers were quite unaccustomed to the rules of 
the Court and did not know the mode of pro- 



THE AUDIENCE HALL S25 

cedure when in the presence of Her Majesty. 
Many foolish suggestions were made by these 
generals. During one of the conversations Her 
Majesty remarked on the inefficiency of the 
navy and referred to the fact that we had no 
trained naval officers. One of the generals 
replied that we had more men in China than in 
any other country, and as for ships, why we had 
dozens of river boats and China merchant boats, 
which could be used in case of war. Her 
Majesty ordered him to retire, saying that it was 
perfectly true that we had plenty of men in 
China, but that the majority of them were like 
himself, of very little use to the country. After 
he had retired, everybody commenced to laugh, 
but Her Majesty stopped us, «aying that she did 
not feel at all like laughing, she was too angry 
to think that such men held positions as officers 
in the army aild navy. One of the Court ladies 
asked me why Her Majesty was so angry with 
the man for mentioning the river boats, and was 
very much surprised when I informed her that 
the whole of them would be worse than useless 
against a single war vessel. 

Just about the end of the eleventh moon 
Chang Chih Tung, Viceroy of Wuchang, 
arrived, and was received in audience. Her 
Majesty said to him: "Now, you are one of the 
oldest officials in the country, and I want you 



320 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

to give me your unbiased opinion as to what 
effect this war is going to have on China. Do 
not be afraid to give your firm opinion, as I want 
to be prepared for anything which is hkely to 
happen." He answered that no matter what the 
result of the war might be, China would in all 
probability have to make certain concessions to 
the Powers with regard to Manchuria for trade 
purposes, but that we should not otherwise be 
interfered with. Her Majesty repeated what 
had been discussed at the previous audiences on 
this subject and also regarding reform in China. 
Chang Chih Tung replied that we had plenty 
of time for reform, and that if we were in too 
great a hurry, we should not accomplish any- 
thing at all. He suggested that the matter be 
discussed at length before deciding upon any- 
thing definite. In his opinion it would be fool- 
ish to go to extremes in the matter of reform. 
He said that ten or fifteen years ago he would 
have been very much against any reform what- 
soever, but that he now saw the need for it to 
a certain extent, as circumstances had changed 
very much. He said that we should adhere 
strictly to our own mode of living and not aban- 
don the traditions of our ancestors. In other 
words, he simply advised the adoption of western 
civilization where it was an improvement on our 
own, and nothing more. Her Majesty was 



THE AUDIENCE HALL 327 

delighted with the interview, for Chang Chih 
Tung's opinions coincided exactly with her own. 

During the whole of these audiences the 
Emperor, although present each time, never 
opened his lips to say a word, but sat listening 
all the time. As a rule. Her Majesty would ask 
his opinion, just as a matter of form, but he 
invariably replied that he was quite in accord 
with what Her Majesty had said or decided upon. 

Of the many religious ceremonies in connec- 
tion with the Buddhist religion the "La-pa- 
chow" was the most important. This was held 
on the 8th day of the twelfth moon each year. 
According to the common belief, on this eighth 
day of the twelfth moon, many centuries ago, 
a certain Buddhist priest Ju Lai set out to beg 
for food, and after receiving a good supply of 
rice and beans from the people, he returned and 
divided it with his brother priests, giving each 
an equal share, and he became celebrated for his 
great charity. This day was therefore set apart 
as an anniversary to commemorate the event. 
The idea was that by practising self-denial on 
this day, one would gain favor in the sight of 
this Buddha Ju Lai, therefore the only food 
eaten was rice, grain and beans, all mixed to- 
gether in a sort of porridge, but without any salt 
or other flavoring. It was not at all pleasant 
to eat, being absolutely tasteless. 



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN 
THE NEW YEAR FESTIVALS 

We now reached the time set apart for clean- 
ing the Palace in preparation for the New Year 
festivals. Everything had to be taken down and 
thoroughly overhauled, and all the images, pic- 
tures, furniture and everything else were sub- 
jected to a thorough scrubbing. Her Majesty 
again consulted her book in order to choose a 
lucky day on which to commence these opera- 
tions, finally choosing the twelfth day as being 
most favorable. As we had all received our 
orders previously, we commenced early on the 
morning of the twelfth. Several of the Court 
ladies were told off to take down and clean the 
images of Buddha and prepare new curtains for 
them. The rest of the cleaning was done by the 
eunuchs. I asked Her Majesty whether I was 
to clean her jewelry, but she answered that as 
nobody but herself ever wore it, it didn't need 
cleaning. 

After everything had been cleaned to Her 
Majesty's satisfaction, she prepared a list of 
names of the people she desired to attend the 

328 



THE NEW YEAR FESTIVALS 329 

ceremony of Tzu Sui. This ceremony was held 
on the last day of each year and was something 
like the midnight services usually held in Eu- 
rope on the last night of each old year — just a 
farewell ceremony to bid the old year adieu. 
The guests were invited about a fortnight ahead, 
so as to give them plenty of time to get ready. 
Her Majesty also ordered new winter clothing 
for the Court ladies. The only difference 
between these new garments and those we were 
then wearing was that they were trimmed with 
the fur of the silver fox instead of the gray 
squirrel. 

The next thing was to prepare cakes, which 
were to be placed before the Buddhas and ances- 
tors, during the New Year. It was necessary 
that Her Majesty should make the first one her- 
self. So when Her Majesty decided that it was 
time to prepare these cakes the whole Court went 
into a room specially prepared for the purpose 
and the eunuchs brought in the ingredients — 
ground rice, sugar and yeast. These were 
mixed together into a sort of dough and then 
steamed instead of baked, which caused it to rise 
just like ordinary bread, it being believed that 
the higher the cake rises, the better pleased are 
the gods and the more fortunate the maker. 
The first cake turned out fine and we all con- 
gratulated Her Majesty, who was evidently 



330 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

much pleased herself at the result. Then she 
ordered each of the Court ladies to make one, 
which we did, with disastrous results, not one 
turning out as it should. This being my first 
year, there was some excuse for my failure, but 
I was surprised that none of the older Court 
ladies fared any better, and on inquiring from 
one of them the reason, she replied: "Why, I 
did it purposely, of course, so as to flatter Her 
Majesty's vanity. Certainly I could make them 
just as well as she, if not better, but it would not 
be good policy." After we had all finished mak- 
ing our cakes, the eunuchs were ordered to make 
the rest, and needless to say they were perfect 
in every way. 

The next thing was to prepare small plates of 
dates and fresh fruits of every kind. These were 
decorated with evergreens, etc., and placed before 
the images of Buddha. Then we prepared glass 
dishes of candy, which were to be offered to the 
God of the Kitchen. On the twenty-third day 
of the last moon the God of the Kitchen left this 
earth to go on a visit to the King of Heaven, to 
whom he reported all that we had been doing dur- 
ing the past year, returning to earth again on the 
last day of the year. The idea of offering him 
these sweets was in order that they should stick 
to his mouth and prevent him from telling too 
much. When these candies were prepared, we 



THE NEW YEAR FESTIVALS S31 

all adjourned to the kitchen and placed the offer- 
ing on a table specially placed for the purpose. 
Turning to the head cook, she said: "You had 
better look out now; the God of the Kitchen will 
tell how much you have stolen during the past 
year, and you will be punished." 

The following day another ceremony had to 
be gone through, that of writing out the New 
Year Greetings for the guests and Court, so in 
the morning we all went with Her Majesty to 
the Audience Hall, where the eunuchs had pre- 
pared large sheets of yellow, red and pale green 
paper. Her Majesty took up a large brush and 
commenced to write. On some of these sheets 
she wrote the character "Shou" (Long Life) and 
on others "Fu" ( Prosperity) . By and bye, when 
she began to feel tired, she would get either one 
of the Court ladies or one of the official writers 
to finish them for her. When finished, they were 
distributed to the guests and different officials, 
the ones Her Majesty had written herself being 
reserved for her special favorites. These were 
given out a few days before the New Year. 

Her Majesty received New Year presents 
from all the Viceroys and principal officials. 
She would examine each present as it was re- 
ceived, and if it found favor in her eyes, she 
would use it, but if not, she would have it locked 
away in one of the storerooms and probably never 



332 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

see it again. These presents consisted of small 
pieces of furniture, curios, jewelry, silks, in fact 
everything — even clothing. The present sent by 
Viceroy Yuan Shih Kai was a yellow satin 
robe, embroidered with different colored precious 
stones and pearls designed to represent the peony 
flower; the leaves were of green jade. It was 
really a magnificent thing, and must have cost 
a fortune. The only drawback was its weight; 
it was too heavy to wear comfortably. Her 
Majesty appeared delighted with this gown, and 
wore it the first day, after which it was discarded 
altogether, although I often suggested that she 
should wear it, as it was the most magnificent 
gown I ever saw. Once when Her Majesty was 
granting an audience to the Diplomatic Corps, 
I suggested that she should wear this dress, but 
she refused, giving no reason, so nobody outside 
the Court has ever seen this wonderful garment. 

Another costly present was received from the 
Viceroy of Canton, and consisted of four bags 
of pearls, each bag containing several thousands. 
They were all perfect in shape and color, and 
would have brought fabulous prices in Europe 
or America. However, Her Majesty had so 
many jewels, especially pearls, that she hardly 
paid any attention to them beyond remarking 
that they were very nice. 

The Young Empress and the Court ladies 



THE NEW YEAR FESTIVALS 333 

were also expected to give presents to Her Maj- 
esty each New Year. These were for the most 
part articles that we had made ourselves, such 
as shoes, handkerchiefs, collars, bags, etc. My 
mother, my sister and myself made presents of 
mirrors, perfumes, soaps and similar toilet acces- 
sories which we had brought with us from Paris. 
These Her Majesty appreciated very much; she 
was very vain. The eunuchs and servant girls 
gave fancy cakes and other food stuffs. 

The presents were so numerous that they filled 
several rooms, but we were not allowed to remove 
them until Her Majesty gave orders to do so. 

The Court ladies also exchanged presents 
among themselves, which often led to confusion 
and amusement. On this occasion I had received 
some ten or a dozen different presents, and when 
it came my turn to give something, I decided 
to use up some of the presents I had received 
from my companions. To my surprise, the next 
day I received from one of the Court ladies an 
embroidered handkerchief which I immediately 
recognized as the identical handkerchief I had 
myself sent her as my New Year's present. On 
mentioning the fact, this lady turned and said: 
"Well, that is rather funny; I was just won- 
dering what had made you return the shoes I 
sent you." Of course everybody laughed very 
heartily, and still further merriment was caused 



S34« TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

when, on comparing all the presents, it was 
found that quite half of us had received back 
our own presents. In order to settle the matter, 
we threw them all into a heap and divided them 
as evenly as possible, everybody being satisfied 
with the result. 

About a week before New Year's day all au- 
diences ceased and the seals were put away 
until after the holidays. During this time no 
business was transacted by Her Majesty. 
Everything was much more comfortable and we 
could see that Her Majesty also appreciated the 
change from bustle to quietness. We had noth- 
ing whatever to do but to take things easy until 
the last day of the year. 

Early on the morning of the thirtieth Her 
Majesty went to worship before the Buddhas 
and Ancestral Tablets. After this ceremony 
was finished, the guests began to arrive, until 
by midday, all the guests, numbering about fifty, 
were present. The principal guests were: The 
Imperial Princess (Empress Dowager's adopted 
daughter). Princess Chung (wife of Emperor 
Kwang Hsu's brother) , Princesses Shun and Tao 
(wives of the Emperor's younger brothers). 
Princess Kung (wife of the nephew of the 
Imperial Princess), and Prince Ching's family. 
All these ladies were frequent visitors to the 
Court. Next day many other Princesses, not of 



THE NEW YEAR FESTIVALS 335 

the Imperial family, but whose titles were hon- 
orary titles bestowed by previous rulers, came. 
Next, the daughters of the high Manchu officials 
and many other people whom I had never seen 
before. By midday all the guests had arrived, 
and, after being presented to Her Majesty, were 
taken to their different apartments and told to 
rest a while. At two o'clock in the afternoon 
everybody assembled in the Audience Hall, lined 
up according to their different ranks and, led 
by the Young Empress, kowtowed to Her 
Majesty. This was the ceremony Tzu Sui 
already referred to, and was simply a last good- 
bye to Her Majesty before the New Year set 
in. When it was all over. Her Majesty gave 
each of us a small purse made of red satin 
embroidered with gold, containing a sum of 
money. This is to enable each one to commence 
the New Year with a kind of reserve fmid for 
a rainy day, when they would have this money 
to fall back upon. It is an old Manchu custom 
and is still kept up. 

The evening was spent in music and enjoy- 
ment, and was carried on right through the 
night, none of us going to bed. At Her 
Majesty's suggestion we commenced gambling 
with dice. Her Majesty providing each of us 
with money, sometimes as much as $200. She 
told us to be serious about it, and to try and 



336 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

win, but of course we took good care not to 
win from Her Majesty. When Her Majesty 
began to tire, she stopped the game and said: 
"Now, all this money I have won I am going 
to throw on the floor, and you girls can scramble 
for it." We knew that she wanted to see some 
fun, so we fought for it as hard as we could. 

At midnight the eunuchs brought into the 
room a large brass brazier containing live char- 
coal. Her Majesty pulled a leaf from a large 
evergreen tree, which had been placed there for 
the purpose, and threw it into the fire. We each 
followed her example, adding large pieces of 
resin, which perfumed the whole atmosphere. 
This ceremony was supposed to bring good luck 
during the coming year. 

The next item was making cakes or pies for 
New Year's day. On the first of the New Year, 
nobody is allowed to eat rice, these cakes taking 
its place. They were made of flour paste, with 
minced meat inside. While some of us were pre- 
paring these cakes, others were peeling lotus 
seeds for Her Majesty's breakfast. 

It was now well on into the morning hours 
and Her Majesty said that she was tired and 
would go and rest a while. She was not going 
to sleep, however, so we could carry on our noise 
as much as we liked. This we did for some time, 
and on visiting Her Majesty's bedroom, we 



THE NEW YEAR FESTIVALS S37 

found that she was fast asleep. We then all 
repaired to our various rooms and commenced 
to make ourselves tidy for the day. As soon 
as Her Majesty was awake, we all proceeded 
to her bedroom, taking with us plates of apples 
(representing "Peace"), olives ("Long Life"), 
lotus seeds (Blessing), She suitably acknowl- 
edged these gifts and wished us all good luck 
in return. She inquired whether we had been 
to bed and, on learning that we had been up all 
night, she said that was right. She herself had 
not meant to sleep, only to rest a little, but some- 
how she had not been able to keep awake, and 
gave as a reason that she was an old woman. 
We waited on her until she had finished her toilet 
and then wished her a Happy New Year. We 
then proceeded to pay our respects to the Em- 
peror and to the Young Empress. There was 
nothing further to be done in the way of cere- 
monies, and we therefore all accompanied Her 
Majesty to the theatre. The performance took 
place on a stage erected in the courtyard, and Her 
Majesty closed in one part of her veranda for 
the use of the guests and Court ladies. During 
the performance I began to feel very drowsy, 
and eventually fell fast asleep leaning against 
one of the pillars. I awoke rather suddenly to 
fijid that something had been dropped into my 
mouth, but on investigation I found it was noth- 



S38 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

ing worse than a piece of candy, which I imme- 
diately proceeded to eat. On approaching Her 
Majesty, she asked me how I had enjoyed the 
candy, and told me not to sleep, but to have a 
good time like the rest. I never saw Her 
Majesty in better humor. She played with us 
just like a young girl, and one could hardly rec- 
ognize in her the severe Empress Dowager we 
laiew her to be. 

The guests also all seemed to be enjoying 
themselves very much. In the evening, after the 
theatrical performance was over. Her Majesty 
ordered the eunuchs to bring in their instruments 
and give us some music. She herself sang sev- 
eral songs, and we all sang at intervals. Then 
Her Majesty ordered the eunuchs to sing. 
Some were trained singers, and sang very nicely, 
but others could not sing at all and caused quite 
a lot of amusement by their efforts to please Her 
Majesty. The Emperor appeared to be the 
only one present who was not having a good 
time; he never smiled once. On meeting him 
outside, I asked him why he looked so sad, but 
he only answered: "A Happy New Year" in 
English, smiled once, and walked away. 

Her Majesty rose very early next morning 
and proceeded to the Audience Hall to worship 
the God of Wealth. We all accompanied her 
and took part in the ceremony. During the 



THE NEW YEAR FESTIVALS 339 

next few days we did nothing but gamble and 
scramble for Her Majesty's winnings. This 
was all very nice in its way, until one day one 
of the Court ladies began to cry, and accused me 
of stepping on her toes in the scramble. This 
made Her Majesty angry and she ordered the 
offender to go to her room and stay there for 
three days, saying that she did not deserve to 
be enjoying herself if she could not stand a little 
thing like that. 

The tenth of the first moon was the birthday 
of the Young Empress, and we asked Her Maj- 
esty whether we would be allowed to give pres- 
ents. She gave us permission to give whatever 
presents we might wish to. However, we sub- 
mitted all our presents to Her Majesty for her 
approval, before giving them to the Young Em- 
press, and we had to be very discreet and not 
choose anything which Her Majesty might think 
was too good. It was very difficult to tell what 
to send, as Her Majesty might take a fancy to 
any of the presents herself, even though they 
might not be of much value intrinsically. In 
such a case Her Majesty would tell us that she 
would keep it, and to give the Young Empress 
something else. 

The celebration was very similar to that of the 
Emperor's birthday, but not on such an elabo- 
rate scale. We presented the Ru Yee to the 



340 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

Young Empress and kowtowed to her. She 
was supposed to receive these tokens of respect 
sitting on her throne, but out of deference to 
Her Majesty (we were Her Majesty's Court la- 
dies) she stood up. She always was very polite 
to us under all circumstances. 

On this day, as on the Emperor's birthday, 
the Emperor, Young Empress and Secondary 
wife dined together. These were the only two 
occasions when they did so, always dining sep- 
arately at other times. Her Majesty sent two 
of her Court ladies to wait upon the Empress, I 
myself being one of them. I was very pleased, 
as I wanted to see for myself how they conducted 
themselves when together. I went into the 
Young Empress' room and informed her that 
Her Majesty had ordered us to wait upon them, 
to which she simply answered: "Very well." So 
we went to the dining room and set the table, 
placing the chairs into position. The meal was 
much different from what I expected. Instead 
of being stiff and serious like Her Majesty when 
dining they were quite free and easy, and we 
were allowed to join in the conversation and par- 
take of some of the food and wine. A very pretty 
ceremony was gone through at the commence- 
ment of the meal. The Emperor and Young 
Empress seated themselves, and the Secondary 
wife filled their cups with wine and presented it 




Foreigners in Front of Stand Waiting for the Funeral 




Flag Carriers in the Tuneral 



THE NEW YEAR FESTIVALS 341 

to them in turn as a sign of respect, the Em- 
peror first. When the meal was over we re- 
turned to Her Majesty's apartment and told 
her that everything had passed off nicely. We 
knew very well that we had been sent simply 
to act as spies, but we had nothing interesting 
to tell Her Majesty. She asked if the Emperor 
had been very serious and we answered "Yes." 

The New Year celebrations terminated with 
the Festival of Lanterns on the fifteenth day of 
the first moon. These lanterns were of differ- 
ent shapes, representing animals, flowers, fruits, 
etc., etc. They were made of white gauze, 
painted in different colors. One lantern repre- 
senting a dragon about fifteen feet long was 
fastened to ten poles, and ten eunuchs were re- 
quired to hold it in position. In front of this 
dragon a eunuch was holding a lantern repre- 
senting a large pearl, which the dragon was 
supposed to devour. This ceremony was gone 
through to the accompaniment of music. 

After the lanterns came a firework display. 
These fireworks represented different scenes in 
the history of China, grape vines, wisteria blos- 
soms, and many other flowers. It was a very 
imposing sight. Portable wooden houses had 
been placed near the fireworks from which Her 
Majesty and the rest of the Court could see them 
without being out in the cold air. This display 



342 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

lasted for several hours without a stop, and thou- 
sands of firecrackers were set off during the 
time. Her Majesty seemed to enjoy the noise 
very much. Altogether it was a good finish to 
the celebrations and we all enjoyed it very much. 

The next morning all the guests departed 
from the Palace and we re-commenced our ev- 
eryday life. 

As usual after the guests had departed Her 
Majesty began to criticise their mode of dress- 
ing, their ignorance of Court etiquette, etc., but 
added that she was rather glad, as she didn't want 
them to know anything about Court life. 

As Spring soon arrived it was time for the 
farmers to commence sowing seed for the rice 
crop, and of course there was another ceremony. 
The Emperor visited the Temple of Agriculture 
where he prayed for a good harvest. Then he 
proceeded to a small plot of ground situated in 
the temple and after turning the earth over with 
a hand plow he sowed the first seeds of the 
season. This was to show the farmers that their 
labors were not despised and that even the Em- 
peror was not ashamed to engage in this work. 
Anybody could attend this ceremony, it being 
quite a public affair, and many farmers were 
present. 

About this same time the Young Empress 
went to see the silkworms and watch for the eggs 



THE NEW YEAR FESTIVALS 343 

to be hatched. As soon as they were out, the 
Young Empress gathered mulberiy leaves for 
the worms to feed upon and watched them until 
they were big enough to commence spinning. 
Each day a fresh supply of leaves were gathered 
and they were fed four or five times daily. Sev- 
ieral of the Court ladies were told off to feed the 
worms during the night and see that they did not 
escape. These silkworms grow very rapidly and 
we could see the difference each day. Of course 
when they became full grown they required more 
food and we were kept busy constantly feeding 
them. The Young Empress was able to tell by 
holding them up to the light when they were ready 
to spin. If they were transparent then they 
were ready, and were placed on paper and 
left there. When spinnning the silkworm does 
not eat, therefore all we had to do was to watch 
that they did not get away. After spinning for 
four or five days their supply of silk becomes ex- 
hausted and they shrivel up and apparently die. 
These apparently dead worms were collected by 
the Young Empress and placed in a box where 
they were kept until they developed into moths. 
They were then placed on thick paper and left 
there to lay their eggs. 

If left to themselves, the silkworms when 
ready for spinning will spin the silk around their 
bodies until they are completely covered up, 



344? TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

gradually forming a cocoon. In order to deter- 
mine when they have finished spinning it was 
customary to take the cocoon and rattle it near 
the ear. If the worm was exhausted you could 
plainly hear the body rattle inside the cocoon. 
The cocoon is then placed in boiling water until 
it becomes soft. This, of course, kills the worm. 
In order to separate the silk a needle is used to 
pick up the end of the thread which is then wound 
on to a spool and is ready for weaving. A few 
of the cocoons were kept until the worms had 
turned into moths, which soon ate their way out 
of the cocoons when they were placed on sheets 
of paper and left to lay their eggs, which are 
taken away and kept in a cool place until the 
following Spring, when the eggs are hatched 
and become worms. 

When the silk had all been separated we took 
it to Her Majesty for inspection and approval. 
On this particular occasion Her Majesty or- 
dered one of the eunuchs to bring in some silk 
which she herself had woven when a young girl 
in the Palace, and on comparing it with the new 
silk it was found to be just as good in every way 
although many years had passed since it was made. 

All this was done with the same object as the 
Emperor sowing the seeds, viz. : — to set the peo- 
ple a good example and to encourage them in 
their work. 



CHAPTER NINETEEN 

THE SEA PALACE 

This year we had a very hot spring and Her 
Majesty was desirous of getting back again to 
the Sea Palace. However, as war had ah'eady 
been declared between Russia and Japan it was 
thought best to remain in the Forbidden City 
until things were more settled. Her Majesty 
was very much worried over this war and spent 
most of her time in offering prayers to the dif- 
ferent divinities for the welfare of China and we, 
of course, were expected to join her. Things 
were very monotonous about this time and noth- 
ing particular occurred until the beginning of 
the second moon. By this time Her Majesty 
was quite sick of staying in the Forbidden City 
and said that no matter what happened she would 
remove the Court to the Sea Palace, where Miss 
Carl could get along and finish the portrait which 
had been hanging on for nearly a year. So on 
the sixth day of the second moon we moved back 
to the Sea Palace. Everything looked fresh and 
green and many of the trees had commenced to 
blossom. Her Majesty took us around the lake 

345 



346 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

and we were in such good spirits that Her Maj- 
esty remarked that we acted more like a lot of 
wild animals escaped from a menagerie than 
human beings. She was much brighter now, 
but said that she would be haj)pier still to get to 
the Summer Palace. 

Miss Carl was summoned to the Palace, and 
Her Majesty visited her and asked to see the 
portrait. She again asked me how long it would 
be before it was finished, and I told her that un- 
less she gave a httle more of her time to posing 
it might not be finished for quite a long time. 
After a lot of consideration Her Majesty finally 
agreed to give Miss Carl five minutes each day 
after the morning audience, but that she desired 
it to be distinctly understood that she did not 
intend to pose for anything but the face. She* 
accordingly sat for two mornings, but on the 
third morning she made an excuse saying that 
she was not feeling well. I told her that Miss 
Carl could not proceed further unless she sat for 
the face, so, although she was very angry, she 
gave Miss Carl a few more sittings until the face 
was finished. She absolutely refused to sit again 
whether it was finished or not, saying that she 
would have nothing more to do with the portrait. 
I myself sat for the remainder of the portrait, 
viz.: — for Her Majesty's dress, jewels, etc., and 
so by degrees the portrait was completed. 



THE SEA PALACE 347 

When Her Majesty learned that the portrait 
was nearing completion she was very much 
pleased;, and I thought it a good opportunity to 
again broach the subject of payment. Her 
Majesty asked me whether I really thought it 
necessary to pay cash for the portrait and how 
much. I told her that as painting was Miss 
Carl's profession, if she had not been engaged on 
painting Her Majesty's portrait she would most 
probably have been engaged on other similar 
work for which she would have received compen- 
sation, and that therefore she would naturally 
expect to be paid even more handsomely in this 
instance. It was difficult to make Her Majesty 
understand this and she asked if I was quite cer- 
tain that Miss Carl would not be offended by an 
offer of money, also Mrs. Conger who had pre- 
sented her. I explained that in America and 
Europe it was quite customary for ladies to 
earn their own living either by painting, teach- 
ing or in some other similar manner, and 
that it was no disgrace but rather the opposite. 
Her Majesty seemed very much surprised to 
learn tliis, and asked why Miss Carl's brother 
did not support her himself. I told Her Maj- 
esty that Miss Carl did not desire him to pro- 
vide for her, besides which he was married and 
had a family to support. Her Majesty gave 
it as her opinion that this was a funny kind of 



348 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

civilization. In China when the parents were 
dead it was the duty of the sons to provide for 
their unmarried sisters until such time as they 
married. She also said that if Chinese ladies 
were to work for their living it would only set 
people talking about them. However, she 
promised to speak with Her Ministers about 
paying Miss Carl, and I felt somewhat re- 
lieved as there seemed to be a probability of 
something satisfactory being arranged after 
all. 

The twelfth day of the second moon was the 
anniversary of another interesting ceremony, 
viz.: — the birthday of the flowers and trees. 
After the morning audience we all went into the 
Palace grounds, where the eunuchs were waiting 
with huge rolls of red silk. These we all com- 
menced to cut into narrow strips about two 
inches wide and three feet long. When we had 
cut sufficient Her Majesty took a strip of red 
silk and another of yellow silk which she tied 
round the stem of one of the peony trees (in 
China the peony is considered to be the queen 
of flowers). Then all the Court ladies, eunuchs 
and servant girls set to work to decorate every 
single tree and plant in the grounds with red silk 
ribbons, in the same manner as Her Majesty had 
done. This took up nearly the entire morning 
and it made a very pretty picture, with the 



THE SEA PALACE 349 

bright costumes of the Court ladies, green trees 
and beautiful flowers. 

We then went to a theatrical performance. 
This represented all the tree fairies and flower 
ff'ries celebrating their birthday. The Chinese 
believe t/^vat all the trees and flowers have their 
own particular fairies, the tree fairies being men 
and the flow:;^ fairies being women. The cos- 
tumes were very pretty and were chosen to blend 
with the green trees and flowers which were on 
the stage. One of the costumes worn by a lotus 
fairy was made of pink silk, worked so as to 
represent the petals of the flower, the skirt being 
of green silk to represent the lotus leaves. When- 
ever this fairy moved about the petals would 
move just as though wafted by the breeze, like 
a natural flower. Several other costumes rep- 
resenting different flowers were made in the 
same manner. The scene was a woodland dell, 
surrounded with huge rocks perforated with 
caves, out of which came innumerable small 
fairies bearing decanters of wine. These small 
fairies represented the smaller flowers, daisies, 
pomegranate blossoms, etc. The result can be 
better imagined than described. All the fairies 
gathered together and drank the wine, after 
which they commenced to sing, accompanied by 
stringed instruments, played very softly. The 
final scene was a very fitting ending to the per- 



350 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

formance. It represented a small rainbow wliicb 
gradually descended until it rested on the rocks ; 
then each fairy in turn would sit upon the rain- 
bow which rose again and conveyed theiii 
through the clouds into Heaven. Th s com- 
pleted the celebration and we all retired to our 
rooms. 

On the fourteenth day of the second moon 
(March 2, 1904), I completed my first year 
at Court. I had quite forgotten this fact until 
Her Majesty reminded me of it. She asked 
whether I was comfortable and happy where I 
was or did I long to return to Paris. I answered 
truly that although I had enjoyed myself while 
in France still I preferred the life of the Court, 
it was so interesting, besides which I was in my 
own native land and among all my friends and 
relations, and naturally I preferred that to living 
in a strange land. Her Majesty smiled and said 
she was afraid that sooner or later I would tire 
of the life in the Palace and fly away again across 
the ocean. She said that the only way to make 
sure of me was to marry me off. She again 
asked me what was my objection to getting mar- 
ried; was I afraid of having a mother-in-law, or 
what was it? If that was all, I need not woriy, 
for so long as she was alive there was nothing to 
be afraid of. Her Majesty said that even if I 
were married it would not be necessary for me to 



THE SEA PALACE 351 

stay at home all the time, but that I would be 
able to spend my time in the Palace as usual. 
Continuing, she said: "Last year when this mar- 
' ige question came up I was willing to make al- 
lowances as you had been brought up somewhat 
differemly from the rest of my Court ladies, but 
do not run away with the idea that I have for- 
gotten all about it. I am still on the lookout 
for a suitable husband for you." I simply an- 
swered as before — that I had absolutely no de- 
sire to marry, but that I wanted to stay where 
I was and live at the Court so long as Her Maj- 
esty was willing to have me there. She made 
some remark about my being stubborn and said 
that I should probably change my mind before 
long. 

During the latter part of the second moon 
Miss Carl worked very hard to get the portrait 
finished and Her Majesty again consulted her 
book in order to select a lucky day on which to 
put the final touches to the picture. The 19th 
of April, 1904, was chosen by Her Majesty as 
the best time, and Miss Carl was duly notified. 
Miss Carl most emphatically stated that it was 
quite impossible to finish the portrait properly 
by the time named, and I told Her Majesty what 
Miss Carl said, explaining that there were many 
small finishing touches to be added and I sug- 
gested it would be better to give Miss Carl a few 



252 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CJ TY 

days longer if possible. However, Her Majesty 
said that it must be finished by four o'clock on 
the 19th day of April, and therefore there was 
nothing further to be said. 

About a week before the time fixed for com- 
pletion Her Majesty paid a visit to thr studio 
to finally inspect the picture. She seemed very 
much pleased with it, but still objected to her face 
being painted dark on one side and light on the 
other. As I have said before, I had explained 
that this was the shading, but Her Majesty in- 
sisted on my telling Miss Carl to make both sides 
of her face alike. This led to a pretty hot discus- 
sion between Miss Carl and myself but she finally 
saw that it was no use going against Her Maj- 
esty's wishes in the matter, so consented to make 
some slight alteration. Happening to catch 
sight of some foreign characters at the foot of 
the painting Her Majesty inquired what they 
were and on being informed that they were sim- 
ply the artist's name, said: "Well, I know for- 
eigners do some funny things, but I think this 
about the funniest I ever heard of. Fancy put- 
ting her own name on my picture. This will 
naturally convey the impression that it is a por- 
trait of Miss Carl, and not a portrait of myself at 
all." I again had to explain the reason for this, 
saying that it was always customary for foreign 
artists to write their names at the foot of any pic- 



THE SEA PALACE 353 

ture they painted, whether portrait or otherwise. 
So Her Majesty said she supposed it was all 
right, and would have to remain, but she looked 
anything but satisfied with it. 

By working practically all night and all day. 
Miss Carl managed to get the portrait finished by 
the time stipulated, and Her Majesty arranged 
that Mrs. Conger and the other ladies of the Dip- 
lomatic Corps should come to the Palace and see 
the portrait. This was quite a private audience 
and Her Majesty received them in one of the 
small Audience Halls. After the usual greet- 
ings Her Majesty ordered us to conduct the la- 
dies to the studio, which we did. Her Majesty 
bidding them good-bye and remaining in her own 
apartments. The Young Empress in accordance 
with instructions from Her Majesty, accom- 
panied us to the studio, and acted as hostess. 
Everybody expressed great admiration for the 
portrait and it was voted a marvellous likeness. 
After inspecting the picture we all adjourned for 
refreshments. The Young Empress sat at the 
head of the table and asked me to sit next to her. 
Shortly after everybody was seated a eunuch 
came and asked the Young Empress to inform 
these ladies that the Emperor was slightly indis- 
posed and was unable to be present. I inter- 
preted this, and everybody appeared satisfied. 
As a matter of fact the Emperor was quite well, 




S54i TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CI 



but we had forgotten all about him. And so the 
guests departed without seeing him on this oc- 
casion. 

On reporting everything to Her Majesty as 
usual, she asked what they thought of the por- 
trait, and we told her that they had admired it 
very much. Her Majesty said: "Of course they 
did, it was painted by a foreign artist." She 
didn't appear to be very much interested and was 
quite cross about something, which caused me 
great disappointment after all the trouble Miss 
Carl had taken to finish the portrait. Her Maj- 
esty then remarked that Miss Carl had taken a 
long time to get the portrait finished, and asked 
why nobody had reminded her to inform the 
Emperor about the audience, being particularly 
angry with the head eunuch on this occasion. 
Her Majesty said that as soon as she remem- 
bered, she immediately sent a eunuch to make 
excuses, as the ladies might very well think that 
something had happened to the Emperor and it 
might cause talk. I told her that I explained 
to them that the Emperor was not well and they 
evidently thought nothing further of his absence. 

By the next day the carpenters in the Palace 
had finished the frame for the portrait and when 
it had been properly fitted Her Majesty or- 
dered my brother to take a photograph of it. 
This photograph turned out so well that Her 





THE SEA PALACE 355 

Majesty said it was better than the portrait it- 
self. 

The picture being now quite finished, Miss 
Carl prepared to take her leave, which she did 
a few days later, having received a handsome 
present in cash from Her Majesty in addition 
to a decoration and many other presents as re- 
muneration for her services. For quite a long 
time after Miss Carl had left the Palace I felt 
very lonely, as during her stay I had found her 
a genial companion and we had many things in 
common to talk about. Her Majesty noticed 
that I was rather quiet, and asked me the cause. 
She said: "I suppose you are beginning to miss 
your friend, the lady artist." I did not care to 
admit that this was so, for fear she might think 
me ungrateful to herself, besides which I knew 
she did not like the idea of my being too friendly 
with foreigners. So I explained to Her Maj- 
esty that I always did regret losing old friends 
but that I would get used to the change very 
soon. Her Majesty was very nice about it and 
said she wished that she was a little more sen- 
timental over such small things, but that when 
I got to her age I should be able to take things 
more philosophically. 

After Miss Carl had left the Court, Her 
Majesty asked me one day: "Did she ever ask 
you much about the Boxer movement of 1900?" 




356 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

I told her that I knew very little of the Boxer 
movement myself, as I was in Paris at the time 
and I could not say very much. I assured her 
that the lady artist never mentioned the subject 
to me. Her Majesty said: "I hate to mention 
about that affair and I would not like to have 
foreigners ask my people questions on that sub- 
ject. Do you know, I have often thought that 
I am the most clever woman that ever lived and 
others cannot compare with me. Although I 
have heard much about Queen Victoria and read 
a part of her life which someone has translated 
into Chinese, still I don't think her life was half 
so interesting and eventful as mine. My life is 
not finished yet and no one knows what is go- 
ing to happen in the future. I may surprise 
the foreigners some day with something extraor- 
dinary and do something quite contrary to any- 
thing I have yet done. England is one of 
great powers of the world, but this has not 
been brought about by Queen Victoria's absolute 
rule. She had the able men of parliament back 
of her at all times and of course they discussed 
everything until the best result was obtained, 
then she would sign the necessary documents 
and really had nothing to say about the pohcy of 
the country. Now look at me, I have 400,000,- 
000 people, all dependent on my judgment. 
Although I have the Grand Council to consult 



SM 



THE SEA PALACE 357 

with, they only look after the different appoint- 
ments, but anything of an important nature I 
must decide myself. What does the Emperor 
know? I have been very successful so far, but 
I never dreamt that the Boxer movement would 
end with such serious results for China. That 
is the only mistake I have made in my life. I 
should have issued an Edict at once to stop the 
Boxers practising their belief, but both Prince 
Tuan and Duke Lan told me that they firmly 
believed the Boxers were sent by Heaven to en- 
able China to get rid of all the undesirable and 
hated foreigners. Of course they meant mostly 
missionaries, and you know how I hate them 
and how very religious I always am, so I thought 
I would not not say anytliing then but would 
wait and see what would happen. I felt sure 
they were going too far as one day Prince Tuan 
brought the Boxer leader to the Summer Palace 
and summoned all the eunuchs into the courtyard 
of the Audience Hall and examined each eunuch 
on the head to see if there was a cross. He said, 
'This cross is not visible to you, but I can identify 
a Christian by finding a cross on the head.' 
Prince Tuan then came to my private Palace 
and told me that the Boxer leader was at the 
Palace Gate and had found two eunuchs who 
were Christians and asked me what was to be 
done. I immediately became very angry and 



358 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

told him that he had no right to bring any Boxers 
to the Palace without my permission ; but he said 
this leader was so powerful that he was able to 
kill all the foreigners and was not afraid of the 
foreign guns, as all the gods were protecting 
him. Prince Tuan told me that he had wit- 
nessed this himself. A Boxer shot another with 
a revolver and the bullet hit him, but did not 
harm him in the least. Then Prince Tuan sug- 
gested that I hand these two eunuchs supposed 
to be Christians to the Boxer leader, which I did. 
I heard afterwards that these two eunuchs were 
beheaded right in the country somewhere near 
here. This chief Boxer came to the Palace the 
next day, accompanied by Prince Tuan and 
Duke Lan, to make all the eunuchs burn incense 
sticks to prove that they were not Christians. 
After that Prince Tuan also suggested that we 
had better let the chief Boxer come every day 
and teach the eunuchs their belief; that nearly 
all of Peking was studying with the Boxers. The 
next day I was very much surprised to see all 
my eunuchs dressed as Boxers. They wore red 
jackets, red turbans and yellow trousers. I was 
sorry to see all my attendants discard their offi- 
cial robes and wear a funny costume like that. 
Duke Lan presented me with a suit of Boxer 
clothes. At that time Yung Lu, who was the 
head of the Grand Council, was ill and asked 



THE SEA PALACE 359 

leave of absence for a month. While he was 
sick, I used to send one of the eunuchs to see 
him every day, and that day the eunuch returned 
and informed me that Yung Lu was quite well 
and would come to the Palace the next day, 
although he still had fifteen days more leave. I 
was puzzled to know why he should give up the 
balance of his leave. However, I was very anx- 
ious to see him, as I wished to consult him about 
this chief Boxer. Yung Lu looked grieved 
when he learned what had taken place at the Pal- 
ace, and said that these Boxers were nothing but 
revolutionaries and agitators. They were trying 
to get the people to help them to kill the for- 
eigners, but he was very much afraid the result 
would be against the Government. I told him 
that probably he was right, and asked him what 
should be done. He told me that he would talk 
to Prince Tuan, but the next day Prince Tuan 
told me that he had had a fight with Yung Lu 
about the Boxer question, and said that all of 
Peking had become Boxers, and if we tried to 
turn them, they would do all they could to kill 
everyone in Peking, including the Court; that 
they (the Boxer party) had the day selected to 
kill all the foreign representatives; that Tung 
Fou Hsiang, a very conservative General and 
one of the Boxers, had promised to bring his 
troops out to help the Boxers to fire on the Lega- 



360 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

tions. When I heard this I was very much wor- 
ried and anticipated serious trouble, so I sent 
for Yung Lu at once and kept Prince Tuan with 
me. Yung Lu came, looking very much wor- 
ried, and he was more so after I had told him 
what the Boxers were going to do. He imme- 
diately suggested that I should issue an Edict, 
saying that these Boxers were a secret society 
and that no one should believe their teaching, 
and to instruct the Generals of the nine gates 
to drive all the Boxers out of the city at once. 
When Prince Tuan heard this he was very angry 
and told Yung Lu that if such an Edict was 
issued, the Boxers would come to the Court and 
kill everybody. When Prince Tuan told me 
this, I thought I had better leave everything to 
him. After he left the Palace, Yung Lu said 
that Prince Tuan was absolutely crazy and that 
he was sure these Boxers would be the cause of 
a great deal of trouble. Yung Lu also said that 
Prince Tuan must be insane to be helping the 
Boxers to destroy the Legations ; that these Box- 
ers were a very common lot, without education, 
and they imagined the few foreigners in China 
were the only ones on the earth and if they were 
killed it would be the end of them. They forgot 
how very strong these foreign countries are, and 
that if the foreigners in China were all killed, 
thousands would come to avenge their death. 



THE SEA PALACE S61 

Yung Lu assured me that one foreign soldier 
could kiU one hundred Boxers without the shght- 
est trouble, and begged me to give him instruc- 
tions to order General Nieh, who was afterwards 
killed by the Boxers, to bring his troops to pro- 
tect the Legations. Of course I gave him this 
instruction at once, and also told him that he 
must see Prince Tuan at once and Duke Lan to 
tell them that this was a very serious affair and 
that they had better not interfere with Yung 
Lu's plans. Matters became worse day by day 
and Yung Lu was the only one against the 
Boxers, but what could one man accomplish 
against so many? One day Prince Tuan and 
Duke Lan came and asked me to issue an Edict 
ordering the Boxers to kill all the Legation peo- 
ple first and then all remaining foreigners. I 
was very angry and refused to issue this Edict. 
After we had talked a very long time, Prince 
,Tuan said that this must be done without delay, 
for the Boxers were getting ready to fire on the 
Legations and would do so the very next day. 
I was furious and ordered several of the eunuchs 
to drive him out, and he said as he was going out : 
'If you refuse to issue that Edict, I wiU do it 
for you whether you are willing or not,' and he 
did. After that you know what happened. He 
issued these Edicts unknown to me and was 
responsible for a great many deaths. He found 



362 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

that he could not carry his plans through and 
heard that the foreign troops were not very far 
from Peking. He was so frightened that he 
made us all leave Peking." As she finished say- 
ing this, she started to cry, and I told her that 
I felt very sorry for her. She said: "You need 
not feel sorry for me for what I have gone 
through; but you must feel sorry that my fair 
name is ruined. That is the only mistake I have 
made in my whole life and it was done in a mo- 
ment of weakness. Before I was just like a 
piece of pure jade; everyone admired me for 
what I have done for my country, but the jade 
has a flaw in it since this Boxer movement and 
it will remain there to the end of my life. I 
have regretted many, many times that I had 
such confidence in, and believed that wicked 
Prince Tuan; he was responsible for everything." 
By the end of the third moon Her Majesty 
had had enough of the Sea Palace and the Court 
moved into the Summer Palace. This time we 
travelled by boat as it was very beautiful 
weather. On reaching the water-gates of the 
Palace we found everything just lovely and the 
peach blossoms were in full bloom. Her Maj- 
esty plainly showed how glad she was to be back 
once more and for the time being seemed to have 
forgotten everything else, even the war. 



CHAPTER TWENTY 

CONCLUSION 

My second year at the Palace was very much 
the same as the first. We celebrated each anni- 
versary and festival in the same way as before: 
the usual audience was held each morning by 
Her Majesty, after which the day was given up 
to enjoyment. Amongst other things Her Maj- 
esty took great interest in her vegetable gardens, 
and superintended the planting of the different 
seeds. When vegetables were ready for pull- 
ing, from time to time, all the Court ladies 
were supplied with a kind of small pruning fork 
and gathered in the crop. Her Majesty seemed 
to enjoy seeing us work in the fields, and when 
the fit seized her she would come along and 
help. In order to encourage us in this work. 
Her Majesty would give a small present to the 
one who showed the best results so we naturally 
did our best in order to please her, as much as 
for the reward. Another hobby of Her Maj- 
esty's was the rearing of chickens, and a certain 
number of birds were allotted to each of the 
Court ladies. We were supposed to look after 

363 



364 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

these ourselves and the eggs had to be taken to 
Her Majesty every morning. I could not un- 
derstand why it was that my chickens gave less 
eggs than any of the others until one day my 
eunuch informed me that he had seen one of the 
other eunuchs stealing the eggs from my hen 
house and transferring them to another, in order 
to help his mistress to head the list. 

Her Majesty was very particular not to en- 
courage untidyness or extravagance among the 
Court ladies. On one occasion she told me to 
open a parcel which was lying in her room. I 
was about to cut the string when Her Majesty 
stopped me and told me to untie it. This I man- 
aged to do after a lot of trouble, and opened the 
parcel. Her Majesty next made me fold the 
paper neatly and place it in a drawer along with 
the string so that I would know where to find it 
should it be wanted again. From time to time 
Her Majesty would give each of us money for 
our own private use and whenever we wanted to 
buy anything, say flowers, handkerchiefs, shoes, 
ribbons, etc., these could be bought from the 
servant girls who used to make them in the Pal- 
ace and we would enter each item in a small note 
book supplied by Her Majesty for the purpose. 
At the end of each month Her Majesty exam- 
ined our accounts and in case she considered that 
we had been extravagant she would give us a 



CONCLUSION 365 

good scolding, while on the other hand, if we 
managed to show a good balance she would com- 
pliment us on our good management. Thus un- 
der Her Majesty's tuition we learned to be 
careful and tidy against such time as we might be 
called upon to look after homes of our own. 

About this time my father began to show signs 
of breaking down and asked for permission to 
withdraw from public life. However, Her 
Majesty would not hear of this and decided to 
give him another six months vacation instead. 
It was his intention to go to Shanghai and see 
the family physician, but Her Majesty did not 
approve of this, maintaining that her own doc- 
tors were quite as good as any foreign doctor. 
These doctors therefore attended him for some 
time, prescribing all kinds of different concoc- 
tions daily. After a while he seemed to pick up a 
little but was still unable to get about on account 
of having chronic rheumatism. We therefore 
again suggested that it would be better for him 
to see his own doctor in Shanghai, who under- 
stood my father thoroughly, but Her Majesty 
could not be made to see it in that light. She 
said that what we wanted was a little patience, 
that the Chinese doctors might be slow, but they 
were sure, and she was convinced they would com- 
pletely cure my father very soon. The fact of 
the matter was she was afraid that if my father 



see TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

went to stay in Shanghai the rest of the family 
would want to be there with him, which was not 
in her programme at all. So we decided to re- 
main in Peking unless my father showed signs of 
getting worse. 

In due course the time arrived on which it had 
been arranged to hold the Spring Garden Party 
for the Diplomatic Corps, and as usual one day 
was set apart for the Ministers, Secretaries and 
members of the various Legations, and the fol- 
lowing day for their wives, etc. This year very 
few guests attended the Garden Party but 
among those who did come were several stran- 
gers. About half a dozen ladies from the 
Japanese Legation came with Madame Uchida, 
wife of the Japanese Minister. Her Majesty 
was always very pleased to see this lady whom 
she very much admired on account of her extreme 
politeness. After the usual presentation we 
conducted the ladies to luncheon, showed them 
over the Palace grounds, after which we wished 
them good-bye and they took their leave. We 
reported everything to Her Majesty, and as 
usual were asked many questions. Among the 
guests there was one lady (English so far as 
I could make out) dressed in a heavy tweed 
travelling costume, having enormous pockets, 
into which she thrust her hands as though it were 
extremely cold. She wore a cap of the same 



CONCLUSION 367 

material. Her Majesty asked if I had noticed 
this lady with the clothes made out of "rice 
bags," and wasn't it rather unusual to be pre- 
sented at Court in such a dress. Her Majesty 
wanted to know who she was and where she came 
from. I replied that she certainly did not be- 
long to any of the Legations as I was acquainted 
with everybody there. Her Majesty said that 
whoever she was she certainly was not accustomed 
to moving in descent society as she (Her Maj- 
esty) was quite certain that it was not the thing 
to appear at a European Court in such a cos- 
tume. "I can tell in a moment," Her Majesty 
added, "whether any of these people are de- 
sirous of showing proper respect to me, or 
whether they consider that I am not entitled to 
it. These foreigners seem to have the idea that 
the Chinese are ignorant and that therefore they 
need not be so particular as in European Society. 
I think it would be best to let it be understood 
for the future what dress should be worn at the 
different Court Functions, and at the same time 
use a certain amount of discretion in issuing in- 
vitations. In that way I can also keep the mis- 
sionary element out, as well as other undesirables. 
I like to meet any distinguished foreigners who 
may be visiting in China, but I do not want any 
conmion people at my Court." I suggested that 
the Japanese custom could be followed, viz.: to 



368 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

issue proper invitation cards, stipulating at the 
foot the dress to be worn on each particular oc- 
casion. Her Majesty thought this would meet 
the case and it was decided to introduce a similar 
rule in China. 

Whenever the weather permitted, Her Maj- 
esty would pass quite a lot of her time in the 
open air watching the eunuchs at work in the 
gardens. During the early Spring the lotus 
plants were transplanted and she would take 
keen interest in this work. All the old roots had 
to be cut away and the new bulbs planted in 
fresh soil. Although the lotus grew in the shal- 
lowest part of the lake (the West side) it was 
necessary for the eunuchs to wade into the water 
sometimes up to their waists in order to weed out 
the old plants and set the young ones. Her 
Majesty would sit for hours on her favorite 
bridge (The Jade Girdle Bridge) and superin- 
tend the eunuchs at their work, suggesting from 
time to time as to how the bulbs were to be 
planted. This work generally took three or four 
days, and the Court ladies in attendance would 
stand beside Her Majesty and pass the time 
making fancy tassels for Her Majesty's cush- 
ions, in fact doing anything so long as we did 
not idle. 

It was during the Spring that Yuan Shih Kai 
paid another visit to the Palace, and among other 



CONCLUSION 369 

subjects discussed was the Russo- Japan war. 
He told Her Majesty that it was developing into 
a very serious affair and that he feared China 
would be the principal sufferer in the long run. 
Her Majesty was very much upset by this news, 
and mentioned that she had been advised by one 
of the censors to make a present to the Japanese 
of a large quantity of rice, but had decided to 
take no action whatever in the matter, which re- 
solve Yuan Shih Kai strongly supported. 

I was still working each day translating the 
various newspaper reports and telegrams rela- 
ting to the war and one morning, seeing a para- 
graph to the effect that Kang Yu Wei (Leader 
of the Reform Movement in China in 1898) had 
arrived at Singapore from Batavia, I thought it 
might interest Her Majesty and so translated it 
along with the rest. Her Majesty immediately 
became very much excited which made me feel 
frightened as I did not know what could be the 
matter. However, she explained to me that this 
man had caused all kinds of trouble in China, 
that before meeting Kang Yu Wei the Emperor 
had been a zealous adherent to the traditions of 
his ancestors but since then had plainly shown 
his desire to introduce reforms and even Chris- 
tianity into the country. "On one occasion," 
continued Her Majesty, "he caused the Em- 
peror to issue instructions for the Smnmer Pal- 



370 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

ace to be surrounded by soldiers so as to keep 
me prisoner until these reforms could be put 
into effect, but through the faithfulness of Yung 
Lu, a member of the Grand Council, and Yuan 
Shih Kai, Viceroy of Chihli, I was able to frus- 
trate the plot. I immediately proceeded to the 
Forbidden City, where the Emperor was then 
staying and after discussing the question with 
him he replied that he realized his mistake and 
asked me to take over the reins of government 
and act in his stead." 

(The result of this was, of course, the Edict 
of 1898 appointing the Empress Dowager as 
Hegent of China.) 

Her Majesty had immediately ordered the 
capture of Kang Yu Wei and his followers, but 
he had managed to effect his escape and she had 
heard nothing further about him until I trans- 
lated this report in the newspaper. She seemed 
relieved, however, to know where he was, and 
seemed anxious to hear what he was doing. She 
suddenly became very angry again and asked 
why it was that the foreign governments offered 
protection to Chinese political agitators and crim- 
inals. Why couldn't they leave China to deal 
with her own subjects and mind their own busi- 
ness a little more? She gave me instructions to 
keep a lookout for any further news of this gen- 
tleman and report to her immediately, but I made 



CONCLUSION 371 

up my mind that in any case, I would not men- 
tion anything about him again and so the matter 
gradually died away. 

During one of our visits to the Sea Palace 
Her Majesty drew attention to a large piece of 
vacant ground and said that it had formerly 
been the site of the Audience Hall which had 
been destroyed by fire during the Boxer trouble. 
Her Majesty explained that this had been 
purely an accident and was not deliberately de- 
stroyed by the foreign troops. She said that it 
had long been an eyesore to her as it was so 
ugly, and that she had now determined to build 
another Audience Hall on the same site, as the 
present Audience Hall was too small to accom- 
modate the foreign guests when they paid their 
respects at New Year. She therefore com- 
manded the Board of Works to prepare a model 
of the new building in accordance with her own 
ideas, and submit it for her approval. Up to that 
time all the buildings in the Palace Grounds 
were typically Chinese but this new Audience 
Hall was to be more or less on the foreign plan 
and up to date in every respect. This model 
was accordingly prepared and submitted to Her 
Majesty. It was only a small wooden model but 
was complete in every detail, even to the pattern 
of the windows and the carving on the ceilings 
and panels. However, I never knew anything 



372 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

to quite come up to Her Majesty's ideas, and 
this was no exception. She criticised the model 
from every standpoint, ordering this room to be 
enlarged and that room to be made smaller: this 
window to be moved to another place, etc., etc. 
So the model went back for reconstruction. 
When it was again brought for Her Majesty's 
inspection everybody agreed that it was an im- 
provement on the first one, and even Her Maj- 
esty expressed great satisfaction. The next 
thing was to find a name for the new building 
and after serious and mature consideration it was 
decided to name it Hai Yen Tang (Sea Coast 
Audience Hall). Building operations were 
commenced immediately and Her Majesty took 
great interest in the progress of the work. It 
had already been decided that this Audience Hall 
was to be furnished throughout in foreign style, 
with the exception of the throne, which, of course, 
retained its Manchu appearance. Her Majesty 
compared the different styles of furniture with 
the catalogues we had brought with us from 
France and finally decided on the Louis Fif- 
teenth style, but everything was to be covered 
with Imperial Yellow, with curtains and carpets 
to match. When everything had been selected 
to Her Majesty's satisfaction, my mother asked 
permission to defray the expense herself and 



CONCLUSION 373 

make a present of this furniture. This Her 
Majesty agreed to and the order was accordingly 
placed with a well-known Paris firm from whom 
we had purchased furniture when in France. 
By the time the building was completed the 
furniture had arrived, and it was quickly in- 
stalled. Her Majesty went to inspect it and, of 
course, had to find fault as usual. She didn't 
seem at all pleased with the result of the experi- 
ment and said that after all a Chinese building 
would have been the best as it would have had a 
more dignified appearance. However, the thing 
w^as finished and it was no use finding fault now, 
as it could not be changed. 

During the Summer months I had plenty of 
leisure time and devoted about an hour each day 
to helping the Emperor with his English. He 
was a most intelligent man with a wonderful 
memory and learned very quickly. His pronun- 
ciation, however, was not good. In a very short 
time he was able to read short stories out of an 
ordinary school reader and could write from dic- 
tation fairly well. His handwriting was excep- 
tionally fine, while in copying old English and 
ornamental characters, he was an expert. Her 
Majesty seemed pleased that the Emperor had 
taken up this study, and said she thought of tak- 
ing it up herself as she was quite sure she would 



374 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

learn it very quickly if she tried. After two les- 
sons she lost patience, and did not mention the 
matter again. 

Of course these lessons gave me plenty of op- 
portunity to talk with His Majesty, and on one 
occasion he ventured the remark that I didn't 
seem to have made much progress with Her 
Majesty in the matter of reform. I told him 
that many things had been accomplished since 
my arrival at Court, and mentioned the new 
Audience Hall as an instance. He didn't ap- 
pear to think that anything worth talking about, 
and advised me to give up the matter altogether. 
He said when the proper time arrived — if it ever 
did arrive — then I might be of use, but ex- 
pressed grave doubts on the subject. He also 
enquired about my father and I told him that 
unless his health improved very soon it would be 
necessary for us to leave the Court for a while 
at any rate. He replied that although he should 
very much regret such a necessity, he really be- 
lieved that it would be for the best. He said he 
felt certain that I should never be able to settle 
down permanently to Court life after spending 
so many years abroad, and for his part would 
put no obstacles in the way of my leaving the 
Court if I desired to do so. 

Her Majesty had given me permission to visit 
my father twice every month, and everything 



CONCLUSION 375 

appeared to be going along nicely until one day 
one of Her Majesty's servant girls told me that 
Her Majesty was trying to arrange another 
marriage for me. At first I did not take any 
notice of this, but shortly afterwards Her Maj- 
esty informed me that everything was arranged 
and that I was to be married to a certain Prince 
whom she had chosen. I could see that Her 
Majesty was waiting for me to say something, 
so I told her that I was very much worried at 
that time about my father and begged her to 
allow the matter to stand over for the time being 
at any rate. This made Her Majesty very 
angry, and she told me that she considered me 
very ungrateful after all she had done for me. 
I didn't reply, and as her Majesty did not say 
anything more at the time, I tried to forget 
about it. However, on my next visit home, I 
told my father all about it, and as before he 
was strongly opposed to such a marriage. He 
suggested that on my return to the Palace I 
should lay the whole matter before Li Lien 
Ying, the head eunuch, and explain my position, 
for if anybody could influence Her Majesty, he 
was the one. I, therefore, took the first oppor- 
tunity of speaking to him. At first he appeared 
very reluctant to interfere in the matter, and 
said he thought I ought to do as Her Majesty 
wished, but on my stating that I had no desire 



376 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

to marry at all, but was quite willing to remain 
at Court in my present position, he promised to 
do his best for me. I never heard anything fur- 
ther about my marriage, either from Her Maj- 
esty or Li Lien Ying, and therefore concluded 
that he had been able to arrange the matter satis- 
factorily. 

The Summer passed without anything further 
important occurring. During the eighth moon 
the bamboos were cut down and here again the 
Court ladies were called upon to assist, our 
work being to carve designs and characters on 
the cut trees. Her Majesty assisting. These 
were afterwards made into chairs, tables and 
other useful articles for Her Majesty's tea- 
house. During the long Autumn evenings Her 
Majesty would teach us Chinese history and poe- 
try and every tenth day would put us through 
an examination in order to find out how much 
we had learned, prizes being awarded for pro- 
ficiency. The younger eunuchs also took part 
in these lessons and some of their answers to Her 
Majesty's questions were very amusing. If 
Her Majesty were in a good humor she would 
laugh with the rest of us, but sometimes she 
would order them to be punished for their ig- 
norance and stupidity. However, as they were 
quite: accustomed to being punished they did not 




The Princess Der Ling in Evening Costume 



CONCLUSION 377 

seem to mind very much and forgot all about it 
the next minute. 

As Her Majesty's seventieth birthday was 
approaching the Emperor proposed to celebrate 
this event on an unusually grand scale, but Her 
Majesty would not give her consent to this pro- 
posal on account of the war trouble, for fear 
people might comment on it. The only differ- 
ence, therefore, between this birthday and for- 
mer ones was that Her Majesty gave presents 
to the Court, in addition to receiving them. 
These included the bestowal of titles, promotions 
and increases in salary. Among the titles con- 
ferred by Her Majesty, my sister and myself re- 
ceived the title of Chiin Chu Hsien (Princess). 
These titles, however, were confined to members 
of the Court, and were granted specially by the 
Empress Dowager. Similar promotions to out- 
side officials were always conferred by the Em- 
peror. It was proposed to hold the celebrations 
in the Forbidden City as it was more suited 
for such an important event. However, Her 
Majesty did not like this idea at all, and gave 
instructions that the Court should not be moved 
until three days before the 10th of the tenth 
moon, the date of her birthday. This entailed a 
lot of unnecessary work as it necessitated dec- 
orating both the Summer Palace and the For- 



378 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

bidden City. Everything was hurry and bustle. 
To add to this, it snowed very heavily during the 
few days previous to the tenth. Her Majesty 
was in a very good mood. She was very fond 
of being out in the snow and expressed a wish 
to have some photographs taken of herself on 
the hillside. So my brother was commanded to 
bring his camera, and took several very good 
pictures of Her Majesty. 

On the seventh day the Court moved into the 
Forbidden City and the celebrations commenced. 
The decorations were beautiful; the Court- 
yards being covered with glass roofs to keep out 
the snow. The theatres were in full swing each 
day. The actual ceremony, which took place on 
the tenth, did not differ in any respect from pre- 
vious ones. Everything passed off smoothly, and 
the Court removed again into the Sea Palace. 

While at the Sea Palace we received news 
that my father's condition was becoming serious, 
and he again tendered his resignation to Her 
Majesty. She sent her eunuchs to find out ex- 
actly what the matter was, and on learning that 
he was really very ill, accepted his resignation. 
Her Majesty agreed that it might be better for 
him to go to Shanghai and see if the foreign 
physicians could do him any good. She said 
she supposed it would be necessary for my 
mother to accompany him to Shanghai, but did 



CONCLUSION 379 

not consider it serious enough to send my sister 
and myself along also. I tried to explain that 
it was my duty to go along with him as he might 
be taken worse and die before I could get down 
to see him again, and I begged Her Majesty to 
allow me to go. She offered all kinds of objec- 
tions but eventually, seeing that I was bent on 
going, she said: "Well, he is your father, and I 
suppose you want to be with him, so you may go 
on the understanding that you return to Court 
as soon as ever possible." We did not get away 
until the middle of the eleventh moon, as Her 
Majesty insisted on making clothes for us and 
other preparations for our journey. Of course 
we could do nothing but await Her Majesty's 
pleasure. 

When everything was ready Her Majesty re- 
ferred to her book to choose a suitable day for 
our departure, and fixed on the thirteenth as 
being the best. We therefore left the Palace 
for our own house on the twelfth. We kow- 
towed and said good-bye to Her Maj esty, thank- 
ing her for her many kindnesses during our stay 
with her. Everybody cried, even Her Maj- 
esty. We then went to say good-bye to the 
Emperor and Young Empress. The Emperor 
simply shook hands and wished us "Good Luck" 
in EngHsh. Everybody appeared sorry to see 
us leave. After standing about for a long time 



380 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

Her Majesty said it was no use wasting any- 
more time and that we had better start. At the 
gate the head eunuch bade us good-bye and we 
entered our carriage and drove to my father's 
house, our own eunuchs accompanying us to the 
door. We found everything prepared for our 
journey, and early the next morning we took 
train to Tientsin where we just managed to catch 
the last steamer of the season leaving for Shang- 
hai. As it was, the water was so shallow that 
we ran aground on the Taku bar. 

On arrival in Shanghai my father immediately 
consulted his physician who examined him and 
prescribed medicine. The trip itself seemed to 
have done him a lot of good. I very soon be- 
gan to miss my life at Court, and, although I had 
many friends in Shanghai and was invited to 
dinner parties and dances; still I did not seem 
to be able to enjoy myself. Everything seemed 
different to what I had been accustomed to in 
Peking and I simply longed for the time when 
I should be able to return to Her Majesty. 
About two weeks after our arrival, Her Majesty 
sent a special messenger down to Shanghai to see 
how we were getting along. He brought us 
many beautiful presents and also a lot of med- 
icine for my father. We were very glad to see 
him. He informed us that we were missed very 
much at Court and advised us to return as 



CONCLUSION 381 

soon as it was possible for us to do so. As my 
father began to show signs of improvement he 
suggested that there was no further need for me 
to stay in Shanghai, and thought it better that 
I should return to Peking and resume my duties 
at Court. I therefore returned early in the New 
Year. The river was frozen and I had to travel 
by boat to Chinwantao, from thence by rail to 
Peking. It was a most miserable journey and 
I was very glad when it was over. Her Majesty 
had sent my eunuchs to the station to meet me 
and I at once proceeded to the Palace. On 
meeting Her Majesty we both cried again by 
way of expressing our happiness. I informed 
her that my father was progressing favorably 
and that I hoped to be able to remain with her 
permanently. 

I resumed my previous duties, but this time 
I had neither my sister for a companion nor my 
mother to chat with and everything appeared 
changed. Her Majesty was just the same, how- 
ever, and treated me most kindly. Still, I was 
not comfortable, and heartily wished myself 
back again in Shanghai. I stayed at the Court, 
going through pretty much the same daily routine 
as before until the second moon (March 1905), 
when I received a telegram summoning me to 
Shanghai as my father had become worse, and 
was in a critical condition and wished to see 



S83 TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY 

me. I showed Her Majesty the telegram and 
waited for her decision. She commenced by 
teUing me that my father was a very old man, 
and therefore his chances of recovery were not 
so great as if he were yomiger, finally wind- 
ing up by telling me that I could go to him at 
once. I again wished everj^body good-bye, fuUy 
expecting to return very soon; but this was not 
to be. I found my father in a very dangerous 
condition, and after a lingering illness, he died 
on the 18th of December, 1905. Of course we 
went into mourning for one hundred days which 
in itself prevented my returning to the Court. 

\^Tiile in Shanghai I made many new friends 
and acquaintances and gradually began to reahze 
that after all, the attractions of Court hfe had 
not been able to eradicate the influences which 
had been brought to bear upon me while in Eu- 
rope. At heart I was a foreigner, educated 
in a foreign country, and, having already met 
my husband the matter was soon settled and I 
became an American citizen. However, I often 
look back to the two years I spent at the Court 
of Her Majesty, the Empress Dowager of 
China, the most eventful and happiest days of 
my girlliood. 

Although I was not able to do much towards 
influencing Her JVIajesty in the matter of re- 



^P^Q 



CONCLUSION 383 

form, I still hope to live to see the day when 
China shall wake up and take her proper place 
amonff the nations of the world. 



THE END 



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J